Not only are the stages in Greece a mix of rough and twisty mountain passes, but blisteringly hot weather usually means temperatures on board exceed 50 degrees centigrade.
Combine these factors with choking dust from the water-starved roads, and you’ve got a true rally of attrition.
Dating back to 1953, the Acropolis Rally is one of the longest running events in world rallying. The winding uphill roads and hairpin bends also make Greece a relatively slow rally compared to other events and means there is little cooling from the flow of air.
Cars must be robust to cope with the demands of the rock-strewn stages, while crews have to be at peak physical fitness to cope with the pounding terrain and stifling temperatures.
Drivers are expected to consume more than five litres of fluid per day in order to fight off dehydration and heat exhaustion that often affects those who are competing over the course of the four-day event.
Currently recovering from a broken ankle, WRC regular Matthew Wilson is one of the fittest drivers competing in the championship, and knows all too well the physical demands of a rally as tough as the Acropolis.
“Good fitness levels are an essential; if I didn’t train I wouldn’t be able to compete, it’s as simple as that,” explains the 25-year-old Wilson. “Temperatures inside the car can reach over 50 degrees centigrade in Greece so you need to be at peak fitness levels for your body to be able to cope with such pressures. The roads on the Acropolis are also extremely rough, so upper body strength is important to be able to control the car.”
Wilson continued: “Fitness also helps my concentration - it allows me to make instant decisions that are often essential when out on the stages. If you’re suffering from dehydration and from heat exhaustion, it’s very difficult to concentrate and fitness plays a big part in helping me keep focused.”
The Acropolis Rally is the sixth round of this year’s WRC and the Loutraki-based event will feature 410 competitive kilometres over 22 special stages.