Acropolis Rally Greece
Preview TOYOTA GAZOO Racing going for gold in Greece
The Acropolis returned to the WRC calendar in 2021, having been an almost permanent fixture up until 2013 with a reputation for rocky mountain roads and high temperatures which combine to create a tough challenge for the cars, tyres and drivers.
Kalle Rovanperä, who won the event at the first attempt last year, has a lead of 72 points with four rounds remaining and the possibility to write his name in history in Greece if he can finish the rally on the podium, depending on others’ results.
After finishing second last time out in Belgium, Elfyn Evans is third in the standings and one of those also still in contention for the drivers’ title. Following two podiums in the last two rounds, Esapekka Lappi will contest the Acropolis for the first time since 2014, while Takamoto Katsuta will make his event debut with TGR WRT Next Generation.
This year’s rally begins with a Thursday night superspecial stage in the Athens Olympic Stadium, which previously hosted the WRC in 2005/06. From there crews head directly west to Loutraki, ready for two passes of the stage of the same name on Friday morning, sandwiching a single pass of the adjacent Harvati. The afternoon journey north to the service park in Lamia includes three more stages: a tyre-fitting zone separates the new Dafni and Livadia tests, which are followed by Bauxites. Saturday consists of two loops of three stages west of Lamia and almost half of the rally’s competitive distance. Pyrgos is the longest stage of the weekend at 33.2 kilometres and precedes the returning Perivoli and famous Tarzan test. On Sunday, Elatia-Rengini separates two passes of Eleftherohori, the second forming the rally-ending Power Stage.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“After being very close to the victory in the last two rallies, we go to Greece really wanting to win, but we know that it won’t be easy on such a tough event. The Acropolis is a legendary rally and it’s great to have it back on the calendar since last year. We saw that the gravel roads there are generally not quite as rough as they were in the past. This means that, although reliability is still really important, we also need to have a strong level of performance. Kalle took a great victory last year in difficult conditions and rain which is of course not typical in Greece. Repeating that will be difficult now he is running first on the road, especially as most of Friday’s stages are run only once, but Kalle has been handling this challenge very well so far this season. Elfyn and Esapekka have also been very strong recently and hopefully they can continue in a similar way in Greece.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“I’m looking forward to the Acropolis Rally. After the high-speed nature of Estonia and Finland, Greece will offer a very different challenge for a gravel rally. Sardinia was the last rough gravel event we had in Europe and we had quite a good feeling with the car there and good speed, even though we didn’t get the result at the end of the weekend. There are still things we can improve, and hopefully we can pick up where we left off and keep making steps forward in Greece. Most likely it will be a hot and tough rally like the Acropolis is known for, but we saw last year with the rain that we can’t be completely certain about the weather.”
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“Belgium was a difficult weekend for us, so in Greece we just need to get back at the level where we should be and try to have a good rally. The championship is never over until it’s over so we can’t think about it too much: We’re just trying to get good points from each event and control what we can. Greece was a really nice rally for us last year but our chances this time will probably depend a lot on the weather. If it’s going to be dry then I think it’s going to be really tricky for us to open the road on Friday. If so, it probably won’t be much easier for our rivals just behind us, and hopefully we can still make the best of the situation.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 4)
“In Greece we will be going to something that’s quite unknown for me. I did the rally once before in 2014 when it was a round of the European championship, but half of it was on asphalt then, so there will be a lot that’s new to discover. But I had also not been to Ypres for eight years and we finished on the podium there. So we will try and aim for something similar again this time. We had good speed and a good feeling on similarly rough gravel roads in Sardinia, and hopefully we can find that again in Greece.”