Kalle Rovanperä led EKO Acropolis Rally Greece on Thursday evening after winning the fan-packed super special stage in capital city Athens. The event’s opener followed ceremonial start in front of the majestic Acropolis, in attendance of FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem and Greece’s Alternate Minister for Sport, Giannis Vroutsis.
The Toyota GR Yaris-driving Rovanperä outpaced Hyundai rival Esapekka Lappi by just one-tenth of a second through the asphalt-based EKO Super Special Stage, run for the first time on this 70th-anniversary edition of Acropolis Rally Greece.
The Finn, who topped the championship standings by 25 points before this rally, is determined to bounce back strongly from the dramatic crash which ruled him out of the previous round.
“After the disappointment in Finland, I want to do a good rally,” Rovanperä said as darkness fell over Athens. “We have to fight for it.”
Thursday morning’s shakedown was unfortunately cancelled due to the severe weather affecting Greece this week.
Conditions are now improving but the grip levels in tomorrow’s gravel road tests will remain ultra-challenging, as second-placed Lappi concurred: “I am not sure if anybody likes the unpredictable conditions – but I am sure it’s going to be very entertaining!”
Less than one second separated the leading five crews but it was Thierry Neuville, driving an i20 N identical to that of Lappi’s, who filled the final podium spot. Returning team-mate Dani Sordo was 0.1sec further back while M-Sport Ford Puma man Ott Tänak completed the top five.
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