The Greek event remains one of the most challenging races of the season despite its itinerary having been ‘softened’ for this edition. The dust, stones and high temperatures (30º C) will be turning the tortuous mountain dirt tracks north and west of Athens into a virtual inferno. With this level of demand, tire performance will play a decisive role.
Current World Rally Championship leader, Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota), arrives at the Greek battle in a weekend state. The Finn had to abandon the Ypres Rally, was beaten by a reborn Ott Tänak (Hyundai) for the second time in a row and hasn’t had a win since July.
That unexpected mistake (accident) in Flanders was the Scandinavians’ first outward sign of weakness. His blunder gave the Estonian some breathing space. With only four races remaining to conclude the 2022 WRC, however, numbers are still in favour of the ‘Flying Finn’.
Rovanperä still commands the standings with 72 points over Tänak, all thanks to his five wins this season in Sweden, Croatia, Portugal, Kenya & Estonia. This means that, if he manages to extend that lead to 91 points, he could seal the crown three races before the end of the season.
In order to do this, what better way than a repeat of his 2021 victory at the Olympus of sport. Accompanying him in his Greek odyssey will be his usual teammate Elfyn Evans, third in the standings (116 points), and part-time partner Esapekka Lappi, who will be returning to Greek lands for the first time since 2014. Completing Toyota’s lineup will be Takamoto Katsuta.
Hyundai: Tänak chases his third consecutive win
Tänak is in a great state of form after his two recent triumphs in Finland and Belgium, which followed the one in Sardinia in June. If the Estonian can rely on his i20N Rally1, he is guaranteed to put up a great fight at the Acropolis Rally 2022 this weekend. A year ago, he already demonstrated how well adapted he was to his vehicle with a second position.
To his side will be his Belgian teammate Thierry Neuville, as well as Dani Sordo. The Spaniard will replace Oliver Solberg for this his third race of the season, where he will be seeking to be amongst the top three.
M-Sport: Loeb is back!
The Cumbrian team will receive a great boost for the Acropolis Rally 2022 in the form of nine-time champion Sébastien Loeb. The French driver returns for his fourth race with M-Sport after Monte Carlo – where he won -, Portugal and Kenya. Having already won three times in the land of the gods; he is confident he can produce another of his great performances this time around.
Joining the French legend will be Ireland’s Craig Breen, speared of the team despite his inconsistencies; Britain’s Gus Greensmith and France’s Pierre-Louis Loubet.
The route of the Acropolis Rally 2022
The itinerary of the Acropolis Rally 2022 consists of 303.3 timed kilometres divided into 16 sections. Following the inaugural night stage on Thursday, back at the Athens Olympic Stadium after 2005 and 2006, the action will move to the west of the seaside resort of Loutraki (17,95 km) on Friday, ahead of Harvati (14,42 km), Dafni (13,99 km), Livadia (21,03 km) and Bauxites (22,97 km) stages.
Saturday will consist of two loops of three stages to the west of the city of Lamia, a crucial day as it comprises almost half of the competitive distance of the whole rally with 147,98 km. Pyrgos, with its 33.2 km will be the longest stage of the weekend, and it will be followed by the Perivoli (17,42 km) and the famous Tarzan (23,37 km) super special.
Finally on Sunday participants will dispute the three final stages, making up a total of 45 competitive kilometres, with a double pass through Eleftherohori (16,90 km). The last one will be the ‘Power Stage‘, separated by Elatia-Rengini (11,26 km).
Images of Acropolis Rally 2022: Toyota GAZOO Racing.