It would have been indeed difficult to find a better place for the first victory in SWRC. The Red Bull SKODA team won the legendary Acropolis Rally, one of the most difficult events in the rallying calendar. The season’s fourth event saw Juho Hanninen win after putting in a brilliant performance – a combination of speed, patience and cool-headedness.
- Hanninen in the overall lead after putting in a brilliant performance in Greece
- The team’s first victory this season
- Gassner fourth after a smart ride
Although he was one of the fastest drivers right from the start, Hanninen was careful to avoid driving mistakes and technical problems which, together with failures on the part of some of his opponents, made it possible for him to set the pace. He was second until Stage 6, keeping the gap behind leader Tanak (Ford) reasonably small. He did not avoid minor problems, either (defects in Stage 1 and Stage 2 and a minor clash with a rock), but without any serious consequences, and when Tanak dropped out in Stage 7, he started increasing his lead to finish nearly five minutes ahead of Sousa (Ford) in the end.
After his first victory this season, Juho is in the overall lead of the championship: “It’s been a great weekend for our team, for me and Mikko, as well as the entire championship. It’s indeed been the most difficult Acropolis Rally in history, and I wish to thank all the guys in the team. We are going to the next event to Finland, my home country, as the championship leaders – it’s great!”
Hermann Gassner’s main ambition in Greece was to finish the rally, which he actually did. His performance curve is climbing, which is the most important thing in terms of his further development, and although he did not get to the podium (some of the reasons being a problem with transmission oil and a driving mistake causing him to make a 360), he was very happy, too: “It’s definitely been the most difficult rally we have ever taken part in. We had a few problems, so we are happy to have got to the finish. It was very difficult to find the optimum balance between driving fast and playing it safe, but we did a good job. If it hadn’t been for the problems we had, we could have had podium ambitions!”
Head of the team Raimund Baumschlager was thrilled to bits, too: “The whole team put in an excellent performance. We had everything under control and Juho has shown how brilliant he is on gravel. I also have to congratulate Hermann whose task here in Greece was to “survive” as many kilometers as possible. It’s been a great weekend for the whole team.”
- Skoda Motorsport