M-Sport’s Acropolis Rally Greece retirement list has grown as both Gus Greensmith and Jourdan Serderidis pulled out with technical problems.
The road section immediately after Pyrgos is where M-Sport’s event first began to unravel, when then leader Sébastien Loeb was forced out with a broken alternator.
Pyrgos proved to be a curse once more; privateer driver Serderidis was halted by a hybrid fault aboard his Ford Puma Rally1 before even reaching the startline, pulling up not long after departing midday service.
The local driver had already been without the use of his 100kW hybrid boost for most of Friday.
Greensmith’s retirement was the bigger blow as he had been sixth overall and had genuine designs on Elfyn Evans’ fifth spot, lying just 3.4 seconds behind.
But early on the stage Greensmith’s Puma Rally1 began to slow before he let out a sudden “f***, f***, f***” down the intercom to co-driver Jonas Andersson and duly pulled over.
Greensmith leaped out and opened the hood, but slammed it back down a few seconds later – spelling the end of his rally.
Pierre-Louis Loubet is now the lead M-Sport driver in sixth, but also ran into trouble on Pyrgos 2 when he overshot a hairpin and got beached.
“I missed the braking, I had an engine problem but I was more focused on it than on the stage,” he explained moments before stalling his Puma at the finish control.
His off-road trip down a bank had cost Loubet 47.5s in total on the stage.
Team-mate Craig Breen, who’s seventh overall, was the sole Puma to have a clean run through the stage.
Breen described the stage as hot, explaining that the sun was beaming into the cockpit the entire time on what was the longest stage of the entire rally – and second-longest of the season so far.
Temperatures were a bit of an issue for Hyundai too. Ott Tänak didn’t stop to describe his run through SS11 – likely because his car was running hot. Dani Sordo confirmed his stage was “all good” but stressed “I have to go” with a battery alarm flashing on his dashboard.
Rally leader Neuville did the same, with both he and co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe repeatedly glancing at the dashboard.
There was no change to the overall order; although Tänak was faster than second-placed Esapekka Lappi, it was only by 0.1s, meaning the gap between the pair is 1.2s.
“I have some sensor problem, but luckily on the tires so it doesn’t matter,” said Lappi. “But yeah, very clean stage from our side.”
Sordo meanwhile lost 2.3s to Evans behind him, who didn’t have any concerns over his car but his own temperature.
Asked how his stage was, Evans said: “Hot.”
When it was put to him that he wasn’t the first to say that, after Breen reported something similar, Evans added: “I’m not surprised. It’s hot on your feet, on the brake pedal, but other than that quite OK.”
Team-mate Takamoto Katsuta has had a very difficult rally and was effectively competing in a different discipline of motorsport on SS11.
“It’s a little bit better than the morning but no grip at all on the rear, every corner drifting,” he said. “Not easy.”
Kalle Rovanperä’s car is now in full working order after crashing into a tree on the Saturday morning loop but his pace was poor – 26.4s down on stage winner Neuville.
“We are trying some small setup things, but it seems nothing at least is making it much better,” he said.