Thursday | 09 Sep 2021

Ogier shines in Acropolis as WRC wows Athens

Sébastien Ogier set a hot pace to win Thursday evening’s opening speed test at EKO Acropolis Rally as huge crowds brought central Athens to a standstill.

The FIA World Rally Championship leader headed a Toyota Gazoo Racing clean sweep of the top three places in the 0.98km Cosmote 5G Athens Stage, a quickfire blast around the streets surrounding Syntagma Square.

The Frenchman, driving a Yaris World Rally Car, stopped the clocks 0.6sec faster than Elfyn Evans. Kalle Rovanperä, who was quickest during the morning’s shakedown warm-up, was third, a further 0.2sec back.

“I love Greece. It’s a beautiful country and I’m really happy to come back on these roads,” said Ogier, a winner on his second appearance here in 2011.

Video: EKO Acropolis Rally Greece SS1

“Obviously we have a job in front of us opening the road tomorrow, like always on gravel, but we’ll do our best to try to find some good rhythm because it’s a rally I like.”

The event is back on the WRC calendar for the first time since 2013 and its traditional start ceremony at the foot of Athens’ towering Acropolis citadel launched the rally.

The action began immediately in the heart of the normally bustling city, passing in front of the 19th century Old Royal Palace, which has housed the Hellenic Parliament since 1934.

Rovanperä and then Evans topped the times before Ogier, the last top-tier car to start, edged them both

The rally started in the shadow of Athens' famous Parthenon

“It’s always good to get off to a nice start even if it’s a very, very short stage and in the scale of things probably won’t make any difference, but it’s good to start well,” enthused Evans.

Three Hyundai i20 World Rally Cars trailed the Toyota trio. Thierry Neuville, winner last time out on home ground in Belgium, was a tenth behind Rovanperä while Dani Sordo and Ott Tänak tied for fifth, a further tenth back.

Support category drivers filled the rest of the leaderboard. WRC2 frontrunners and fellow Norwegians Andreas Mikkelsen and Mads Østberg tied for seventh, with WRC3 pacesetter Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Georg Linnamäe tied in ninth.

• Full coverage from Acropolis Rally Greece will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.

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