Kalle Rovanpera took the win in FIA Acropolis Rally in a Toyota 1-2 from Elfyn Evans, as Daniel Sordo ended up third.


Thierry Neuville kept a charging Sébastien Ogier at bay to lead EKO Acropolis Rally Greece on Friday night – overcoming a late technical drama in the process. Just 2.8sec blanketed the duelling duo after the first full day of competition at the legendary Acropolis’ 70th edition. Despite winning just one of the five gruelling gravel road tests, Neuville led from start to finish.

The Hyundai i20 N driver passed overnight pacesetter Kalle Rovanperä by going fastest through the Loutraki opener and had pulled out a 7.4sec buffer over Toyota rival Ogier going into the final stage in Elatia. But his hard work was very nearly in vain as a mechanical problem, suspected to be transmission related, hampered him throughout the 28.32km blast.

Ogier, back in action for the first time since June, was poised to steal the late lead but could only claw back 5.0sec after low-hanging tree branches severed his GR Yaris’ rear wing. He believes tyre strategy will be key in Saturday’s punishing leg, which boasts over 140km of competition.

Rovanperä scored one stage win as the rally threaded up the country following Thursday’s spectacular start in Athens. Opening the road, he was hindered by loose stones on the drying surface and trailed colleague Ogier by 25.5sec at close of play.

Just 5.5sec behind was Elfyn Evans, who struggled to make an impact despite this fixture being crucial in his bid to hunt down championship leader Rovanperä. A slow puncture in SS2 caused the Welshman minor time loss and he, like team-mate Ogier, also lost a rear wing in the finale.

Evans leapfrogged Esapekka Lappi in Elatia to claim fourth overall by 1.1sec, the latter forced to err on the side of caution after nursing a water leak on his Hyundai for much of the afternoon. A stall in the final stage saw i20 N man Dani Sordo slip from fifth to seventh but the Spaniard’s frustrations were nothing compared with those of Ott Tänak, who sat ninth behind Nikolay Gryazin in an M-Sport Ford Puma.

Tänak checked out of the mid-leg tyre fitting zone 22 minutes late after repairing a technical fault, incurring a 3min 40sec time penalty. He reported the issue to be similar to that which ruled out his colleague Pierre-Louis Loubet, who retired before the day’s first stage citing “temperature issues”. There were at least some positives the Estonian could take from the day, though, as he won two special stages.

Yohan Rossel topped the WRC2 leaderboard and completed the top 10 in a Citroën C3 Rally2. The Frenchman inherited the position late in the day after Adrien Fourmaux, previous leader of the category, stopped to change a wheel.


Kalle Rovanperä is on course for a remarkable victory at EKO Acropolis Rally Greece after Saturday’s brutal penultimate leg forced fellow challengers Thierry Neuville and Sébastien Ogier into retirement. A furious fight in the morning became a matter of survival this afternoon as heat and punishing rock-strewn roads took a heavy toll in this 10th fixture of the FIA World Rally Championship season.

Neuville was 10.9sec clear when he thumped a hole and shattered his Hyundai i20 N’s front-right suspension on the first stage of the afternoon loop. He had trailed championship leader Rovanperä by 36 points coming into this fixture, round 10 of 13. His demise left Ogier in control but the Frenchman, who entered the final Eleftherohori stage 12.4sec ahead of team-mate Rovanperä, swiped a rock which destroyed the rear-left suspension on his Toyota GR Yaris. He retired on the final road section whilst Rovanperä romped to the top.

The 22-year-old will start the final leg with a lead of more than two minutes over Hyundai Motorsport Dani’s Sordo. Victory on Sunday would move him another step closer to clinching back-to-back world titles. There was drama throughout the field as Rovanperä’s closest championship challenger Elfyn Evans limped to the finish of SS9 in EV mode when his Toyota began overheating. Having plummeted to fifth, the Welshman hauled himself back up the order only to be demoted to third by Sordo in the final test.

Sordo had ended Friday’s opening leg down in seventh but crept up the order as those around him struck trouble, and 4.1sec split the podium-sitting pair at close of play. Despite having 3min 40sec in time penalties for being late out of Friday’s tyre fitting zone, M-Sport Ford Puma driver Tänak enjoyed a clean run in comparison to his rivals and climbed from ninth to fourth, passing fifth and sixth-placed Esapekka Lappi and Takamoto Katsuta in the process.

A transmission failure left Lappi’s Hyundai with only rear-wheel drive while a fraught run through Karoutes 2 saw Katsuta stop twice to perform wheel changes on his GR Yaris. WRC2 runners comprised the remainder of the leaderboard, and it was Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen who led the support category after a stunning comeback drive in a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2. Gus Greensmith was eighth overall while Yohan Rossel and Grégoire Munster completed the top 10.


Kalle Rovanperä scored his third victory of the season at EKO Acropolis Rally Greece on Sunday afternoon to tighten his grip on this year’s FIA World Rally Championship. The 22-year-old had looked set to bring up the rear of the podium at this 10th round but found himself topping the standings by more than two minutes after Saturday’s penultimate leg when former leaders Thierry Neuville and Sébastien Ogier retired.

Both were sidelined by central Greece’s unforgiving rocky mountain roads, with Neuville’s Hyundai i20 N sustaining front suspension damage before Ogier, driving a Toyota GR Yaris similar to that of Rovanperä’s, stopped after SS12 with rear suspension failure after hitting a rock.

Rovanperä could afford to relax through Sunday’s three-stage finale and sealed a near-perfect weekend with the maximum five bonus points for winning the Wolf Power Stage. He headed team-mate Elfyn Evans, his closest championship challenger, by 1min 31.7sec at the finish and extended his points over the Welshman to 33 with three rounds remaining.

Evans lost more than one minute on Saturday as a result of his Toyota overheating but fought back to finish runner-up after battling with Hyundai’s Dani Sordo until the very last stage. Sordo had held the upper hand overnight but a sluggish run through Tarzan cost him the position. The Spaniard, contesting his first rally since Kenya in June, lost out by just 4.2sec after four days of competition.

Ott Tänak incurred 3min 40sec in time penalties when a water pump failure meant he was late to leave Friday’s tyre fitting zone. But the M-Sport Ford Puma driver enjoyed a relatively clean run from then onwards and climbed to an impressive fourth, albeit more than four minutes back from the lead.

Esapekka Lappi was fifth in a Hyundai ahead of sixth-placed Takamoto Katsuta while Andreas Mikkelsen passed Gus Greensmith in the penultimate stage to win the WRC2 category. In doing so, the Norwegian moved 16 points clear of championship rival Yohan Rossel, who finished ninth overall, while Ogier completed the leaderboard.

Here’s WRC Rally Finland results: https://www.wrc.com/live-timing?liveTimingMenu=overall_livetiming&stage=FINAL&eligibility=Eligibility

[Note: The story is as per press release]