Naren Kumar climbs to 13th place

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{image-naren kumar_02062008.jpg}Athens, Jun 2: Indian ace Naren Kumar and co-driver Nicky Beech survived a scare on the second day of the Acropolis Rally of Greece here to climb to the 13th spot and cap a great day's outing.

After being placed in the 20th position in the production car series of the World Rally Championship, Naren put in a flawless drive in the morning session yesterday that saw him move up as high as 12th place on the time sheets. Just when he looked set to break into the highly creditable top-10 bracket he was struck with a blown turbo in the second re-run of the gruelling 32.16km Aghi Theodori on SS11. While he completed the first run of the same stage in the morning in 22min 39.5 seconds, he was slower by a whopping margin of over five minutes.

But Naren was not alone in his troubles. While high temperatures affected the turbo of most of the cars, the extremely rough terrain continued to play havoc.

Overnight leader Nasser Al-Attihay was stuck down by a broken suspension in the morning SS9 that enabled Juho Hanninen to gobble up the over a minute lead that the Kuwaiti had opened up on the field last night.

Meanwhile, the Team Sidvin India driver in his Subaru WRX STi N14 kept chipping away at the mid field.

At the end of the first run of the Aghi Theodori stage, Naren gained two places. He further improved his standing after the first run of the Pissa in 13 minute 24.5 seconds to gain three more places.

In the third Special Stage of the morning run on Aghia Triada, Naren gained one further place up the order having completed the section in 8minute 56.8 seconds.

The service break trouble started mid way in the SS11, but to the credit of the Indian driver, he not only brought the car home, but also managed to gain one more place.

In the SS12 he slowed down by another five minutes, as turbo troubles resulted in a massive loss of power.

Despite the acute problem Naren just dropped one slot on the time sheets to remain in 13th place.

''It has been a great learning experience. It's an extremely tough rally where the margin of error is very very small. The rough terrain and high temperatures took heavy toll on the cars,'' a relieved Naren said after the race.''I just concentrated on finishing the stages.'' ''I know that if I am able to finish the rally, I would be in a good position at the end of the event,'' he added. ''We are keeping our fingers crossed, there is a lot of distance to go. Anything can happen.''


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