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