(Toyota) has claimed his second WRC victory after Estonia
at the Acropolis Rally Greece 2021
on the country’s return to the World Championship calendar following an eight-year absence. The Greek round has got itself a new god for its Olympus. The young Finn has given an exhibition of talent
finished in second place saving Hyundai’s honour after having lost 42.1 seconds to his Scandinavian rival. Rovanperä’s French teammate, Sebastien Ogier
, winner in Montecarlo
, completed the podium
. The latter has, in fact, been the one to yield the greatest returns from the Greek round.
The racer from Gap now has his eighth World Title at arm’s length after his main rivals for the glory, his partner Elfyn Evans, and Thierry Neuville lost every chance of a win at the Acropolis Rally on Friday after suffering various contingencies.
Rovanperä has managed to keep his rivals at bay since Friday, showing exceptional maturity for a 19-year-old. He has not let himself be intimidated by the great names of the speciality.
The latest two world champions, Tänak (2019), and his teammate in the Japanese team and leader of the standings, Seb Ogier, have chased him mercilessly but unsuccessfully since Friday.
Friday: Unexpected leader
Rovanperä went to bed on Friday as leader of the Acropolis Rally Greece 3.7 seconds ahead of Tänak and 3.9. of Ogier. In his favour played the misfortune of two of the favourites for the win – Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) and Elfyn Evans (Toyota) – who were knocked out of the podium race.
Saturday: Great performance of Kalle
Any other rookie would have succumbed to the pressure of being hunted by two rivals of such calibre. On Saturday, however, the Finn had a chance to show what he is made of, and it turned out to be the stuff of true champions.
He took the first four stages of the day (SS7-SS10) only yielding the last two to his enemies, Tänak winning the SS11 and Ogier the SS12.
Despite the two champions seemingly picking up at the end of the day, the Estonian had given up 30.8 seconds, and the French 40.2, to the Scandinavian teenager.
Harry Rovanperä’s son was sending a very clear message to his rivals; he was in for the glory and not about to be subdued by the stature of his opponents.
Having the 2019 and 2020 champions hot on his heels, however, was not a laughing matter. The final battle still remained to be fought.
Ogier, who had witnessed how the Finn escaped 40.2 seconds ahead of him on Saturday, found solace in the fact that his objective was not to win the Acropolis Rally Greece WRC 2021, but an eighth World Title and this was already within reach, partly thanks to the problems suffered by his rivals.
Sunday: Rovanpera Retains the lead until victory
The final battle arrived with the two Yaris WRC (Rovanperä and Ogier) and the i20 Coupé WRC (Tänak) within a 40-second distance bracket but nothing much would change from then on.
A puncture, mistake or accident could have had those positions change, but none of this happened and everything remained as it was.
In order to avoid any last-minute setback, Rovanperä went onto the opening stage on Sunday with great force. He took the SS13, gaining 14.1 seconds to his immediate pursuer: Tänak.
Getting strength from his wounded pride, Tänak returned the blow in the penultimate special (SS14) recovering almost 20 seconds on board his i20 Coupé WRC.
The top two drivers of the standings came head-to-head in the final stretch, 35 seconds apart but no one could stop Rovanperä on his way to make history. Moreover, the Flying Finn conquered the Power Stage. The gods were on his side.
Images of Acropolis Rally Greece 2021: Toyota GAZOO Racing.