The punishingly rough roads, which threaded their way from Athens to Delphi were not, according to the 1995 world rally champion, particularly specialised. The likes of Bauxite Way and Agii Theodori were tough, agonisingly tough; but they didn’t command the high-speed, pinpoint precision of a Finnish classic like Lankamaa or the extrasensory perception required to tiptoe over a particularly icy Col de Turini.
McRae wasn’t known for his patience, however. And, quite often, while the other drivers hung back in an attempt to gamble on who would run where on the road, the Scot did his own thing and led from the front. Certainly, his 2001 Acropolis win (pictured) was crafted in such a fashion.
Like his successes on the Safari Rally, McRae’s ability to win an incredible five times from 11 starts on the Acropolis - a rally widely regarded as the toughest outing outside of Kenya - highlighted his strength as a thinking driver as well as a speed merchant.
When McRae won the Acropolis for the first time, in 1996, his ability to get the best out of his Subaru’s Pirelli tyres, without melting them in the summer sun, was an integral part of that maiden success.
McRae’s high five didn’t come without some degree of controversy. Ford team director Malcolm Wilson gave McRae the nod over Sainz for the 2000 victory, having seen off the best of the rest. Sainz was understandably angry, but eventually played the team game.
Twelve months on and it was de ja vu for the Ford pair when, Richard Burns again dropped out of the lead fight. This time McRae didn’t wait for team orders, he made his move and scorched through the stages to win. His passage to victory was, however, eased when a fast-closing Sainz suffered engine failure within sight of the finish.
And finally, 2002 and win number five. This time, McRae was magnanimous enough to admit, this was Markko Martin’s event - he’d been unable to match the Estonian’s pace before a puncture intervened.
At such moments, Sainz’s words of wisdom on the Acropolis spring to mind: “You don’t need to be lucky. You need not to be unlucky.”