Didier Claims Ninth

From Skoda Press [ 08/06/2003 ].
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The Škoda Motorsport World Rally Team has again finished a World Rally Championship event in the championship points when Didier Auriol finished today’s final leg of the Acropolis Rally in ninth place. The inherent strength of the Octavia WRC was vital to Didier reaching the finish of what is probably the toughest event of the 2003 World Rally Championship. “The Acropolis is always a difficult rally so I am happy to have reached the finish and scored another point for Škoda,” he said.

Today’s stages were new for many competitors on the Acropolis Rally but not for the more experienced drivers like Didier. “I remember these stages from around 10 years ago but they have changed quite a lot since I last drove them competitively,” he said. “Stages like Tarzan were quite narrow but now the roads are wider and the surface is smoother so they are also quicker. The surface was not so rough this morning but we lost some time because we were ‘cleaning’ the roads for the drivers we were hoping to catch and so we haven’t had as much of a chance to try to pass Gilles Panizzi today.”

Didier gained a 20 seconds penalty this morning when the Škoda Motorsport Team had to change the fuel pumps on the Octavia WRC. During last night’s routine final service the technical data showed that the fuel pressure was low and the solution was to change the fuel pumps. As these are located inside the fuel tank, this is a long and difficult task and one that demands careful preparation. Also, for safety reasons, it is not permitted to carry out other tasks while mechanics are working on the fuel tank. For all of these reasons it was decided to carry out this operation this morning even though the shorter service time meant that the work took two minutes longer than the scheduled 20 minutes service period. The penalty did not affect Didier’s position at all.

Škoda Auto Director of Motorsport, Petr Kohoutek, said: “I have great respect for Didier and the way that he kept the car going at a good speed for three days in these very tough conditions. I am also very happy that we have kept our points scoring record going for another event.”

Next World Championship Rally: Cyprus Rally (CY), June 20-22, 2003