Tue 12 Sep 2023

Endurance, action and outright speed

Kalle Rovanperä sat in his Toyota GR Yaris. He wasn’t going anywhere. Next to him, Jonne Halttunen opened the door and peered skywards. He shut it again. He wasn’t going anywhere either.

The Finns, like the rest of the FIA World Rally Championship crews, were in the middle of their preparations for last week’s EKO Acropolis Rally Greece when Daniel came knocking. The storm that hit the country last week rocked not just the round 10 organisers but the country as a whole.

Typically, Greece took weeks and months of rainfall arriving in a matter of hours in its stride. When you’ve been around 6000 years, it takes more than that to knock a country like this one out of its stride.

Eventually the rain subsided, Rovanperä and Halttunen made it from recce to rally car and delivered one of the performances of their careers to win in Lamia.

And the intervening four days? The Acropolis at its absolute best. The rain genuinely stopped right on cue, an hour or so before a superb harbourside super special in Athens. While the spotlight was on the capital, the service park was wrung out and made ready for a busy weekend.

The fans turned out in their thousands, demonstrating what passion and commitment is all about when it comes to this great sport of ours. Some of the roads were trickier than others to get into, but the camaraderie in making sure everybody saw their slice of action was astonishing with tractors and four-wheel drives wheeled out to keep fans on the move.

And what a show they were treated to as Toyota recovered to win after a troubled time on the season’s roughest roads 12 months ago. And then there was Ott Tänak’s Ford Puma: dealt what some might have feared a fatal blow on Friday, only to recover to finish fourth on Sunday.

Endurance, action and outright speed were blended with stunning blue skies and some of the best lamb chops in history to make last week an absolute belter.

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