The longest leg of Acropolis Rally, round ten of the 2023 World Rally Championship – with over 141 competitive kilometres – is underway. Greece has already accustomed the competitors to very tough road conditions, with plenty of mud in places. The stages are slippery and unpredictable. Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Maciej Szczepaniak showed good pace on SS7 and SS8, moving up into fourth position in the WRC2 standings. Unfortunately, a puncture on the following test pushed them back to sixth place. In the WRC2 Challenger classification, for privateer crews, they moved into third position.
Not only the weather makes the life difficult for the crews. Acropolis Rally itself is an extremely difficult round, famous for rough roads and many stones which are impossible to avoid when you drive at high speeds. It often causes punctures and this happened also to the ORLEN Rally Team duo. The Polish crew reached the finish line with a punctured tyre but at least they did not have to stop on the stage – this would mean even bigger time loss.
– The difficulties of Acropolis Rally have taken a toll on us, with second puncture. We are not able to avoid every stone, the road is littered with them – sometimes these rocks are really huge. We need to take risk, although we try to stay on the safe side at some places, when we have those boulders written down in our pace notes. However, water washed down the road and uncovered those stones. It is difficult to drive, you have to keep your eyes wide open and sometimes it’s not enough. The pace is good and this is the most important thing for me because we battle against factory drivers. We can withstand the pressure, so there are smiles on our faces – although they could have been wider
– Kajetan Kajetanowicz, the ORLEN Rally Team driver, commented midway through Saturday’s leg.
For Saturday the organisers have prepared six special stages: two runs of Pavliani (24.25 kms), Karoutes (28.49 kms) and Eleftherohori (18.02 kms) tests. The crews will cover over 141 competitive kilometres – this is the longest stage of the whole rally.
Starts of Kajetan Kajetanowicz are supported by the title partner of the ORLEN Rally Team – PKN ORLEN, as well as technical partner Delphi Technologies, Pirelli, ATC CARGO S.A., ORLEN OIL – manufacturer of PLATINUM and QUAZAR Dynamic oils, and SJS S.A.
Acropolis Rally 2023, unofficial WRC2 standings after SS9:
- Rossel/Dunand (France, Citroën C3 Rally2) 1:49:28.2
- Greensmith/Andersson (Great Britain/Sweden, Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +7.6
- Pajari/Mälkönen (Finland, Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +27.1
- Mikkelsen/Eriksen (Norway, Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +43.6
- Joona/Shemeikka (Finland, Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +51.2
- Kajetanowicz/Szczepaniak (Poland, Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +57.2
- Munster/Louka (Luxembourg/Belgium, Ford Fiesta Rally2) +1:15.0
- Fourmaux/Coria (France, Ford Fiesta Rally2) +2:09.4
- Marczyk/Gospodarczyk (Poland, Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +2:26.1
- Cachón/Jandrín (Spain, Citroën C3 Rally2) +2:51.4