Rovanperä scores second WRC win in Greece

Kalle Rovanperä scored only his second FIA World Rally Championship rally win on the EKO Acropolis Rally Greece. The Twenty-year-old Finn's Toyota Yaris virtually dominated the entire four-day event on mountain roads in central Greece to win by 42.1sec - just two months after he became the youngest WRC winner in history on Rally Estonia. Second was Ott Tänak's Hyundai i20, with championship leader Sébastien Ogier driving a controlled rally to finish third a further 29.2sec back in his Yaris. The Frenchman extended his points lead to 44 with 3-rounds remaining.

Prior rain made conditions unpredictable on the rally's WRC return following an eight-year absence. The rugged gravel tracks interspersed with muddy sections that failed to dry, ensuring unpredictable track conditions and difficult tyre choices.

Rovanperä led from the third speed test on Friday morning and was never headed. He, Tänak and Ogier were covered by 3.9sec on Friday night but a spurt on Saturday delivered four straight stage wins a 40sec lead which he managed through the remaining stages to seal a perfect weekend with maximum bonus points for winning the Wolf Power Stage. Rovanperä and Ogier increased Toyota Gazoo Racing's lead at the top of the manufacturers' standings to 57 points over Hyundai Motorsport.

Tänak was never comfortable and gratefully accepted second after final day electrical issues. His car then refused to fire up ahead of the final stage, eventually starting with smoke clearly visible. But he completed the test with no further dramas. With closest title rivals Thierry Neuville and Elfyn Evans plunging down the order after first day problems, Ogier was content with a risk-free approach that further strengthened his bid to secure an eighth WRC title.

Dani Sordo was almost two minutes further back in fourth in another i20, frustrated at not being on podium pace. He had nearly three minutes in hand over Gus Greensmith, who moved ahead of Ford Fiesta team-mate Adrien Fourmaux who incurred a three-minute penalty when his car would not start before Sunday's opening stage. A spark plug change solved the issue and although he moved ahead of Evans in the penultimate stage, a final spin dropped him to seventh.

Evans salvaged sixth after opening day transmission troubles in his Yaris, with Neuville recovering to eighth after losing time with damaged power steering. WRC2 winner Andreas Mikkelsen and Marco Bulacia completed the leaderboard in ninth and 10th.

Next, the championship visits Finland for the Secto Automotive Rally Finland, based in Jyväskylä on 1 - 3 October - fastest round on the WRC calendar!

Acropolis results
1. Rovanpera/Halttunen Toyota Yaris 3:28:24:6
2. Tanak/Jarveola Hyundai i20 Coupe + 42:1
3. Ogier/Ingrassia Toyota Yaris + 1:11:3
4. Sordo/Carrera Hyundai i20 Coupe + 3:01:0
5. Greensmith/Patterson Ford Fiesta WRC + 5:45:0
6. Evans/Martin Toyota Yaris + 6:42:7
7. Fourmax/Jamoul Ford Fiesta WRC + 6:54:4
8. Neuville/Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 Coupe + 8:41:1
9. Mikkelsen/Edmondson Skoda Fabia Evo + 9:02:5
10. Bulacia/Der Ohannesian Skoda Fabia Evo + 9:19:2

Driver's Championship - after 9 of 12 rounds

1. Sebastien Ogier 180
2. Elfyn Evans 136
3. Thierry Neuville 130
4. Kalle Rovanpera 129
5. Ott Tanak 106
6. Takamoto Katsuta 66
7. Craig Breen 60
8. Gus Greensmith 44
9. Dani Sordo 43
10. Adrian Fourmaux 36

Teams Championship

1. Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 397
2. Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT 340
3. M-Sport Ford WRT 153
4. Hyundai 2C Competition 44

14th September, 2021

Craig Breen at Castle Combe Rally Day

Rally enthusiast will be delighted to hear that the UK's premier rally car show returns again on Saturday 25th September. Backed by VP Fuels and Motor Sport News, the rally fans favorite event will feature hundreds of rally display cars on show, a large number of major car clubs together with non-stop rally car action on the track and rally field.

Among the international stars expected are 5-times British champion Jimmy McRae, 1996 champion Gwyndaf Evans and winning 1993 co-driver Nicky Grist. In addition, the annual rally pageant, held 09.00 am to 5.00 pm at Castle Combe Circuit will provide a huge trade village, car club displays, rally feature stage, passenger rides, special guests, star interviews and a 4X4 Zone.

Stop Press ....
Craig Breen, driver for the Hyundai Shell Mobis world rally championship team, is the latest rally star driver to confirm his attendance at Rallyday. Hailing from Waterford in southern Ireland, the 31-year-old has finished second on the last two WRC rounds in Estonia and Belgium driving his Hyundai i20 and currently sits 7th overall in the driver's championship with 60 points. Breen is sharing the Hyundai in selected events in the 2021 championship with Spanish star Dani Sordo.

Breen was the 2012 WRC Super 2000 category champion, scoring class wins in Monte Carlo, Wales Rally GB, Rally France, and Rally of Spain. He was also the 2011 WRC Academy champion, winning his first event on the Rallye Deutchland and sealing the championship on Rally Wales GB.

The IRDC is delighted to support the event again with its familiar gazebo to welcome members.

For more information and tickets:

9th September, 2021

Acropolis Rally returns after 8 years.

The 2021 World Rally championship is back to gravel this weekend as Acropolis Rally Greece returns as a round of the championship for the first time since 2013. Based in Lamia 9-12th September, fans are being asked to ensure they socially distance and wear face-masks when spectating in the service park.
With four wins from eight events this season, who'd bet against another world championship for Ogier in possibly the wily Frenchman's swan-song year?

9th September, 2021

Neuville wins at last - in Belgium!

Round 8 of the 2021 championship was the Renties Ypres Rally Belgium, an event founded as 24-Hours of Ypes in 1965. Twenty smooth tarmac stages totaling 296 Km over 13-15th August and characterized by narrow and twisty farm lanes lined by uncompromising drainage ditches, culverts, telegraph poles and lots of tight 90º junctions. Big corner cuts drag mud and debris onto the road, making conditions slippery. A compact route with very little time to pause for breath and Ypres's first WRC year.

From the start, Thierry Neuville and Hyundai team-mate Craig Breen, winner of 2019 Ypres as a ERC round, headed the Friday opening leg. Fastest times on all three evening special stages (the final test cancelled for safety reasons) delivered the Belgian a 7.6sec lead over Breen with Ott Tänak completing a Hyundai podium lockout in third. Neuville's only problem? His trademark specs slipped down his nose disrupting his concentration but clearly not slowing his pace, the Hyundai quartet blanketed by 8.2sec. Kalle Rovanperä, headed a 16-wheel Toyota juggernaut in fourth, 1.4sec adrift and just eight-tenths clear of a frustrated Elfyn Evans, who he demoted in the final stage.

Championship leader Ogier completed the top six, losing time with a puncture and a tad uncomfortable with his car's set-up, but changes at mid-leg service left the Frenchman happier after the evening action. Takamoto Katsuta was seventh, but it was a disastrous opening for Adrien Fourmaux M-Sport Ford who retired in SS3 after clipping a bank and launching his Fiesta into a huge roll, while Gus Greensmith exited just 200 metres after the start of the next stage when he dropped his Fiesta into a ditch.

Saturday's leg featured another compact day south of Ypres covering 119.92km of stages. Four morning tests beginning with Hollebeke, at 25.86km the longest of the rally and repeated in the afternoon but Thierry Neuville was not going to be denied his home WRC victory and clinched his first win of the FIA World Rally Championship season on Sunday afternoon. He had led for virtually the entire event and fended off a fierce first-day challenge from team-mate Craig Breen. The Hyundai i20 duo then settled a synchronised finish after three days and almost 300km of action on narrow Flanders farm lanes and the famous Spa-Francorchamps race circuit.

After finishing the final stage at Spa, a relieved Neuville celebrated victory with a series of donuts, a fitting home victory on Belgium's first WRC round: "It was a pleasure for me to give this first win to Martijn here in Belgium. It should have come earlier, but we were unlucky. It feels good here now." Neuville's victory marked a first WRC win for co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe and revived Neuville's title challenge, now tying for second in the championship standings with Elfyn Evans.

Irishman Breen, for whom this was only his second asphalt appearance in an i20 World Rally Car, secured back-to-back runner-up finishes after a similar result in Estonia last month. Kalle Rovanperä finished third for Toyota after coming out on top of a frantic intra-team fight with Evans and Ogier. The young Finn traded places with Evans all rally and regained third before holding off the frustrated Welshman by 6.5sec.

Ogier's hopes of a podium place were ended by a Sunday morning puncture, but there was consolation for the Frenchman as he extended his lead in the drivers? championship to 38 points with four rounds remaining. He ended 6.2sec behind Evans. Tänak was a distant sixth after falling away from the victory fight with a Saturday morning puncture. WRC3 winner Yohan Rossel was a superb seventh in a Citroën C3 Rally 2 ahead of second-placed category finisher Pieter Jan Michiel Cracco. Fabian Kreim and Vincent Verschueren completed the leaderboard.

Neuville, Breen and Tänak won 15 of the 20 Ypres stages between them for Hyundai and the 1-2 finish enabled the team to reduce Toyota's lead in the manufacturers' championship to 41 points. Drivers are back on gravel next month as Acropolis Rally Greece returns to the WRC for the first time since 2013, based in Lamia 9-12th September. With four wins from eight 2021 events, who'd bet against another world championship for Ogier in the wily Frenchman's swan-song year?

Driver's Championship after 8 of 12 rounds

1.Sebastien Ogier 162
=2.Elfyn Evans 124
=2.Thierry Neuville 124
4.Kalle Rovanpera 99
5.Ott Tanak 87
6.Takamoto Katsuta 66
7.Craig Breen 60
8.Gus Greensmith 34

Manufacturers Championship

1.Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 348
2.Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT 307
3.M-Sport Ford WRT 135
4.Hyundai 2C Competition 44

17th August, 2021

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