Co-driver: Miikka Anttila
The rally started on Thursday evening with a spectator stage that was driven at the Olympic stadium of Athens. Friday morning, on the first stage, I experienced some extra excitement, when the steering wheel almost came loose due to heavy shaking caused by poor-conditioned roads. We got the steering wheel tightened on the way to the start of the next stage, but it didn’t help for long as the problem came back on the second stage. Luckily at the service we were able to fix the problem. When coming to the first service stop I was on the 4th place of the group, nine seconds behind the lead. After that things started to go for the worse as we punctured a tyre on the 6th stage. We had to change it on the stage which caused us to loose two minutes. Our driving was also slowed down by heavy dust. On the following stage I was able to finish second in my group.
Saturday morning started with some good stage times, but then the real problems began. At first we broke the backup shocks that had been changed in the service. After that we blew a tyre plus lost our rear brake fluid tube. These problems were accompanied by a minor leak in the fuel tank and by the fact that my suspension was gone and I had to drive with a flat tyre. On Saturday evening we were still on the 5th position in the group because everyone else seemed to be experiencing problems in this tough rally, too. I had to drive with a plastic splint on my hand because my thumb was not fully healed yet after the operation. This was indeed an extra burden on the long stages.
Sunday didn’t start any better. On the first stage of the day we had a puncture again and on the next stage we got so huge a hole in the fuel tank that the fuel was flowing out in a stream. We were able to get to the service where the options were either to retire or to try and change the fuel tank in 30 minutes plus to get 15 minutes extra of exciding the service time limit. The attempt seemed impossible, but our service team did an excellent job by changing the fuel tank in 43 minutes. We were able to continue the rally despite of the two minutes and ten seconds time penalty of exciding the time limit. On the stage following the service, we caught up with the car ahead of us and had to drive in its dust, dropping to the 6th place. On the second final stage we lost the brake fluid tube again, but were able to get the car fixed in the service. On the last stage I came second in my group. I was 6th of my group and 22nd of the overall competition in the final results of this difficult rally.
6th group, 22nd overall
Car: Subaru Impreza WRX Sti 06
Service Team: Motoring Club
Rally Engineer: Asko Kosonen