SPORTS

Solberg cruises to Greek Rally win

World champion Petter Solberg won the Acropolis Rally yesterday as the Norwegian posted his second victory of 2004, helping him climb to second in the world championship standings. Citroen’s Sebastien Loeb came second, 18.4 seconds behind, after a storming final-day performance, with the Frenchman winning four of the day’s six special stages. Peugeot’s Finnish driver Harri Rovanpera was third, 28.3 seconds behind the winner. Loeb remained championship leader. Solberg was in a class of his own during the first two days of the three-day event, with five stage wins in a row helping him to build up a lead of more than a minute toward the end of the second leg. Brake failure on Saturday and an overnight 30-second penalty for missing mud flaps on his Subaru cut his advantage by half on the final day, but Solberg paced himself carefully over the last six stages. Ford’s young Belgian Francois Duval backed off toward the end, finishing eighth in the final special stage to take fourth place. Fifth went to non-works driver Daniel Carlsson behind the wheel of a Peugeot 206 WRC. France’s Gilles Panizzi and Spain’s Carlos Sainz bagged some manufacturer points despite some problems. Panizzi, in his Mitsubishi, finished almost 20 minutes down after running into engine trouble on the final loop of three stages. (Reuters)