After three rounds, Martin Prokop and Ott Tanak are tied at the top of the drivers’ standings with 40 points each. Karl Kruuda is two points behind with Juho Hanninen a further two points adrift. Bernardo Sousa and Hermann Gassner Jr are also firmly in contention with 25 points.
For the second time this season all 10 registered SWRC competitors will be in action, which will raise the stakes still further, particularly as the list includes expected frontrunners Nasser Al-Attiyah and Eyvind Brynildsen.
Tanak is in the ascendancy following his dominant victory on the previous round in Italy at the wheel of his latest-evolution Ford Fiesta S2000, which is run by Markko Martin’s MM Motorsport operation from Estonia.
“I’ve been busy preparing for Greece mentally over the past week, we’ve not done any events in the Fiesta S2000 since Sardinia and we won’t be behind the wheel until shakedown on Thursday,” said Tanak. “For sure, it’s not going to easy - it’ll be my first time in Greece but then again, it was my first time in Sardinia and I won there so maybe it will good for me next week too.”
While a spate of non-scores has dropped Al-Attiyah out of title contention, the Qatari remains a threat in his Barwa World Rally Team Fiesta on an event he has shone on in the past. “Greece is definitely one of my favourite events and I really want to go flat out next week and finish on top of the podium,” he said.
Brynildsen is also playing catch up following his retirement in Sardinia. The Norwegian, whose Skoda Fabia is run by Petter Solberg’s PS Engineering concern, is planning a big push on the Acropolis Rally. “We need to score full points which means a big attack from the start,” said Brynildsen. “The Acropolis is a good rally, with high temperatures, and I like it. It is a bit rougher than Jordan and Sardinia.”
Red Bull Skoda driver Hermann Gassner Jr is an Acropolis Rally novice. He said: “Everyone has told me that the rally is very rough, especially its first day with the remote service. It is good because we are in a learning process and it will be a good experience.”
For team-mate Hanninen the event takes on particular significance. A favourite to win the title pre-season after clinching the Intercontinental Rally Challenge crown for Skoda in 2010, Hanninen has yet to win this year and says victory in Greece will be vital to his championship hopes: “I have to win for the championship because it can be difficult if I do not,” said the Finn. “Against those Ford guys it will be tough.”
Frigyes Turan and Albert Llovera will also be in action in Greece. Hungarian Turan will drive a Fiesta, while Abarth Grande Punto is the car of choice for Andorran Llovera.