Subaru's Petter Solberg boosted his chances of defending his 2004 Rally of Greece victory and stopping Sébastien Loeb from winning five rallies in a row by going quickest in Thursday's shakedown session ahead of this weekend's event.

Subaru's Petter Solberg boosted his chances of defending his 2004 Rally of Greece victory and stopping Sébastien Loeb from winning five rallies in a row by going quickest in Thursday's shakedown session ahead of this weekend's event.


The Norwegian's 2:21,3 fastest time on the 4,1-kilometre Magnisia stage was 0,7s faster than the best of double world champion Marcus Gronholm's Peugeot 307 WRC.


Mitsubishi's Harri Rovanpera continued to demonstrate the Japanese team's form with the third-fastest time, just 0,1s slower than Gronholm. Drivers have been upbeat about the state of the stages after the recce, following weekends in Cyprus and Turkey in which the stages were less than ideal. The weather is sunny and set to stay that way all weekend, with temperatures averaging 30C.


The competitive stages start later on Thursday with the first spectator superspecial to be held inside a dedicated sports arena - a 2.4km asphalt stage that has been constructed inside the Olympic Stadium in Athens which played host to the 2004 games.


This year's British Rally will also feature a superspecial inside the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, but that will feature a gravel surface and a closing overhead roof, making it the first truly indoor WRC stage. Rally organisers in Wales and Greece are hoping the dedicated 50 000-seater venues will attract large crowds by getting fans close to the action and creating a spectacular show.


"It's fantastic," 2003 world champion Solberg said after doing a recce on the stage this week. "It's the best thing for the spectators. It's one of the best superspecials I've ever seen. It's very well made, design and construction-wise. The surface is very grippy. It's a slow, but pretty spectacular stage."

Original article from Car