by Robin Bird.

EASTHAM MOTORS not only sells a Ferrari look-a-like coupe at the fraction of the price - but sells cars that can win the Acropolis Rally - something a Ferrari can't do!

Hyundai Motor Sport World Rally Team secured the second victory of its 1999 Formula 2 campaign, as Kenneth Eriksson and Staffan Parmander brought their Hyundai Coupe Evo 2 home three minutes clear of their nearest rival to win F2 and finish the gruelling Acropolis rally 15th overall.

The victory is a true testament to the strength and capability of the coupe, since the years event has been described as the 'roughest in years,' with 57 of the 113 cars that started the event being forced into retirement through a succession of mechanical failures.

Hyundai dominated Formula 2 throughout the rally, with Kenneth's team-mate Alister McRae, making his Acropolis debut, taking the lead after the Super Special Stage on Sunday. For the remainder of the first leg, the pair traded fastest times.

But by the end of the day, it was Kenneth who led as Alister joined the ever-increasing list of retirements, withdrawing after the final stage of the day following a heavy landing on a huge rock, which smashed his sump-guard and sump and he lost all engine oil.

The young Scot was understandably disappointed. "The rocks on the stages were the size of bowling balls and it was impossible to avoid them all. I came over a brow and landed heavily on one, which smashed the sump-guard and sump. I managed to limp out of the stage but lost the engine oil and was forced to retire. It was so unlucky and I'm absolutely gutted, since the car was going so well up until that point."

However, on the second leg, accounting for over half the rally's total distance, the Hyundai was in total command of F2, with Eriksson setting the fastest times on five of the eight stages to lead by over two minutes.

And on the last day, despite maintaining a conservative place in order to safeguard his lead, Eriksson still set fastest times on two of the of the five stages, to increase his overnight lead by a further 40 seconds.

"To have secured my first win for Hyundai is very good, particularly as the conditions on this rally have been the worst for many years," said Eriksson. "The car has been very strong and the Michelin tyres also worked very well in difficult conditions. I must also thank the team, who worked very hard before and during the rally, to ensure that we finished. This is a perfect result."

The win, combined with a strong finish by local driver George Vomvilas, gives the team 13 to points to add to their World Cup challenge. However the next round of the championship, Rally New Zealand, running from 15-18 July, is another gravel event and as the team has clearly demonstrated, the Hyundai Coupe Evo 2 is the class of the field on gravel.

So Eriksson and McRae will head for New Zealand looking for more success in its campaign to win the 1999 Formula 2 championship.

To find out more about Hyundai contact Eastham Motors, on 327-6389.

Converted for the new archive on 13 March 2001. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.