Wed 14 Sep 2022

The Inside Line: EKO Acropolis Rally Greece

It was yet another action-packed round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Join us as we look back on some of the talking points from EKO Acropolis Rally Greece.

Star drive 
Pierre-Louis Loubet produced a breakthrough performance on his sixth outing aboard one of M-Sport’s Ford Pumas. 

After last year’s heartache with a 2C Compétition-run Hyundai, the Frenchman seems to be on a rise to success. Greece was, by far, his best performance to date, with two stage wins on Friday.

Loubet even led the rally briefly, but dropped down the order with a front left puncture during Saturday’s penultimate leg. Despite that, he remained calm and positive about the whole experience - setting an example for other young drivers to follow. 

Most memorable stage 
It has to be Thursday evening’s rally-opening super special in Athens Olympic Stadium. It might not have been one of Greece’s classic rocky mountain stages, but it was truly something special. 

The atmosphere was impalpable as upwards of 60,000 fans packed into the amphitheatre to witness the WRC’s return to the stadium for the first time in well over a decade. 

It wasn’t a straightforward test for the crews either - Andreas Mikkelsen proved just that when he overcooked the jump and ran wide into a barrier.

Biggest surprise
It’s not often the Toyota Gazoo Racing squad has a bad rally, but this was certainly one of them. 

Rally Turkey in 2019 was the last time any of the Japanese manufacturer’s Yaris cars failed to break into the top-five. Last week, Takamoto Katsuta was the team’s highest-placed driver in sixth overall. 

Rovanperä ended down in 15th after hitting a tree on Saturday, Esapekka Lappi was even further back following a fuel-related issue and Elfyn Evans retired on the way to Sunday’s opening stage with turbo failure. 

One to forget
As covered above, Mikkelsen’s bid for WRC2 honours was over before it even started when he retired his Škoda on Thursday evening with steering damage. 

Although the Norwegian driver was able to get back out and post some stunning stage times, he left Greece with just seven points in his back pocket. 

Having already started the maximum seven rounds, all the defending champion can do now is wait and see how his rivals perform in New Zealand, Spain and Japan.

Photo of the rally
Thursday night in the Olympic Stadium - you can almost hear the crowd! Photo by @World.

Best save
As always, it was a real treat to have Sébastien Loeb back in the WRC - and he gave us plenty of action. 

Charging into the lead with a stage win at Bauxites on Friday afternoon, the nine-time champion launched his Puma onto two wheels just metres from the flying finish. Laid back as ever, when asked about the moment, the Frenchman simply smiled and said: “It’s no problem.”

Quote of the rally 
"I have done many good and bad weekends but this is one of the worst ones."

Rovanperä was brutally honest about his performance at the championship’s 10th round. But, carrying a 53-point lead with three to go, the young Finn remains in command. 

You’ll never believe it 
Saturday’s first pass through Perivoli was so drama-filled that every single driver throughout the field changed positions. 

Number of the rally
Five. The number of consecutive rallies in which Hyundai’s part-time driver Dani Sordo has finished third overall. 

Always a safe pair of hands, the seasoned Spaniard filled the final podium spot in Spain last October and hasn’t given up the position since. 

Fun fact 
Hyundai Motorsport’s podium lockout marked the Korean manufacturer squad’s first-ever 1-2-3 finish in the WRC.

Latvia
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Italy
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Hungary
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM