Wed 07 Sep 2022

WRC returns to Athens Olympic Stadium

The afternoon and early evening of Thursday June 23, 2005 was not easily forgotten in the FIA World Rally Championship.

The heroes of the WRC were well used to a great reception. But not really one like this. Not one like they received at the start of SS1 of the Acropolis Rally. 

Walking out into the Olympic Stadium, the likes of Sébastien Loeb, Marcus Grönholm and Carlos Sainz were greeted by more than 60,000 fervent fans. The sea of faces packing the stands took them by surprise. 

There had been those who had questioned the logistical sense in bringing the cars all the way from Lamia to a 2.4 kilometre asphalt superspecial in a stadium made for the previous year’s Summer Olympics. 

And, make no mistake, it was some undertaking with transporters carrying millions of Euros worth of rally cars south from the Lamia service park back to the suburbs of Greece’s capital. And then sending them back up the road the same night (that’s the difference this time around, the crews sleep in Loutraki ready for a day of sport around the Peloponnese).

Top 5 Reasons to watch EKO Acropolis Rally Greece

A capacity crowd soon drowned out those doubters.

“So many…” said Grönholm as he took part in the pre-stage walk around. Walking next to him, it was impossible not to smile at “Maaaaaarcuuuuuus!” on repeat. Even ‘Bosse’ allowed himself a brief grin. 

A wave raised the noise levels 10 fold, but it was Petter Solberg’s arrival that would have raised the roof had the stadium had one. 

Typically, ‘Hollywood’ arrived in a flurry of blonde hair and blue overalls throwing caps in just about every direction.

Acropolis Rally Greece Memorable Moments

For that noise, think back to Pippo Inzaghi’s second goal to win the 2007 Champions’ League final in the same place. That loud. 

And when the cars arrived at six in the evening, the entertainment was well and truly underway as the cars went side-by-side on knobbly gravel-specification tyres, drifting, sliding, handing a few seconds to the crowd – just to keep them on their toes.

It was quite extraordinary.

And this Thursday, it’ll be more of the same then Acropolis Rally of Gods goes back to the Olympic Stadium. A great sporting venue for an epic sporting battle.

  • 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.
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
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Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM