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Fri 02 Sep 2022

Rally rewind: Greece 2021

After a seven-year sabbatical, EKO Acropolis Rally Greece - an event with a reputation as one of the toughest in the FIA World Rally Championship - returned to the calendar. We reflect on last year's Rally of the Gods.

1. Masterful Rovanperä
For Kalle Rovanperä, victory at least year’s Acropolis was the start of something special. Two months earlier, he became the youngest WRC winner in history in Estonia. And here he was - in winning form once again. 

Winning in Estonia was impressive, but unsurprising. Rovanperä lives in Tallinn and the fast-flowing gravel tracks share similar characteristics to those in his native Finland. But to do it in Greece? That was a real turning point. 

The Toyota driver led for virtually the entire four-day fixture to win by 42.1sec. There was little to separate him from Ott Tänak and Sébastien Ogier on Friday, but a blistering turn of speed on Saturday’s penultimate leg delivered four straight stage wins and moved him almost 40sec clear.

2. Rain throws a curveball
Heavy rain in the run-up to rally week added to the challenge of the classic event’s return to the championship.

Going back in time, memories of the Acropolis include baking heat and huge plumes of dust following the cars. All of that changed on last year's pre-event recce, when torrential rain and fog impacted the crews’ preparations. 

Rugged gravel tracks were interspersed with muddy sections that failed to dry, ensuring unpredictable driving and difficult tyre choices. Could we see similar conditions again next week? Unlikely - but you never know.

3. Evans’ long shot gets longer
A gearbox problem on Friday morning’s opening loop of stages ruled Evans’ Toyota Yaris out of the frame for a win. He dropped around five minutes but eventually climbed back up to finish sixth overall. 

The Welshman's title hopes were weakened as he left Greece 44 points adrift of team-mate Ogier, who went on to seal his eighth crown. 

"It’s fair to say the championship is more or less decided now," Evans said after the event. "It was always a long shot and now it’s much longer."

4. Acropolis lives up to its reputation
Greece’s rough and rocky terrain took no prisoners as several of the WRC’s frontrunning crews hit trouble. 

Aside from Evans’ woes Thierry Neuville completed several stages without power steering and Gus Greensmith nursed a leaking suspension damper. Pierre-Louis Loubet also had gearbox which forced him into retirement.

5. WRC wows Athens
Thursday evening’s super special stage brought Greek capital Athens to a standstill as huge crowds poured into the city to witness the WRC stars in action. 

The action unfolded in the heart of the normally bustling city with a 0.98km quick-fire blast around the streets passing in front of the 19th century Old Royal Palace, which has housed the Hellenic Parliament since 1934.

  • Full coverage from EKO 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.