Drivers are predicting a tough Acropolis Rally after the opening day of the recce for this week's seventh round of the World Rally Championship.
After a season away from the WRC, the Loutraki-based event makes a welcome return to the calendar, starting from the foot of the world-famous Acropolis in the center of Athens on Thursday evening. Arriving back in Loutraki after a day of pace-note making, the drivers were happy with the roads.
World Champion Sebastien Loeb said: "Some of the stages had a lot of stones and some are a bit rough, but in general they are good."
His Citroen teammate Sebastien Ogier was, like many of the crews, predicting a particularly tough run through the third test of the event – the 11-mile Eleftherohori stage.
Ogier said: "Stage six has a lot of loose gravel and is going to be very slippery. There will be a lot of cleaning in that special stage. Except from SS3, which is rough, the others are good."
Winner of the last Acropolis Rally, Mikko Hirvonen was mildly concerned by the weather and the threat of rain.
"Eleftherohori was rough, it was like the proper Acropolis stage," said the Finn. "We have heard it might rain some time this week. I hope it doesn't. I can't ever remember competing here in the rain. OK, some mornings it has been a little bit damp, but not rain; it would be very strange if it does rain – I left home and it was 88 degrees!"
Friday's opening leg heads north of Loutraki, to the roads around the Gulf of Corinth where the drivers will tackle classic stages on the flanks of Mount Kallidromo that have not been used since 2005. There will be a remote service area in Kamena Vourla, midway through day one.
Saturday's route journeys west across the Corinth Canal for stages in the Peloponnese peninsula and the final test will take place in darkness. The final leg on Sunday is based east of Loutraki and includes the final power stage, which offers bonus points to the fastest three drivers.