Thrilling 70th Anniversary EKO Acropolis Rally brings hope and excitement to Greece
Posted : 11 September 2023
The 70th anniversary edition of the EKO Acropolis Rally delivered an exhilarating spectacle filled with twists and challenges that provided a ray of sunshine and optimism for Greece during a difficult time. Despite the nation's recovery from extreme weather events and ongoing grief, the rally drew a strong crowd of spectators who witnessed a thrilling competition.
Kalle Rovanpera, the winner of the rally, acknowledged the significance of continuing the event in the face of adversity and expressed gratitude for the enthusiastic support of the spectators. He dedicated the victory to the Greek people and their resilience.
The rally featured 69 crews navigating muddy roads and extremely challenging conditions, living up to its reputation as the "Rally of Gods." It proved to be one of the toughest in recent years, with drivers praising the organization for keeping the rally uninterrupted despite the challenges.
Rovanpera's victory was hard-fought, marked by intense battles with Thierry Neuville and Sebastien Ogier, both of whom eventually retired due to the rally's demanding nature. Rovanpera managed his lead comfortably after their exits, securing his third win of the season and moving closer to a second consecutive world title.
Toyota Gazoo Racing took a significant step toward defending their Manufacturers' title, with Elfyn Evans securing a second-place finish despite multiple issues. Dani Sordo, driving Hyundai Shell Mobis' i20 N Rally1, claimed third place, with Ott Tanak from M-Sport's Ford Puma Rally1 finishing fourth after early challenges. Esapekka Lappi and Takamoto Katsuta completed the Top-6 despite facing difficulties on the challenging Acropolis stages.
In the WRC2 category, Andreas Mikkelsen secured a dominant victory, overcoming three punctures on Friday with his Skoda Fabia RS Rally2. Gus Greensmith and Yohan Rossel followed in second and third place, respectively, driving a Skoda Fabia RS Rally2 and a Citroen C3 Rally2. The tough Greek surfaces posed challenges to the WRC2 crews throughout the rally.
The Junior WRC category saw a thrilling battle for the 2023 title, with Irish driver William Creighton initially favored. However, his early retirement due to a broken radiator opened the door for Laurent Pellier, who also faced retirement due to a mechanical problem. Diego Dominguez briefly led the title race but Creighton's return with SuperRally status allowed him to secure sixth place in the category and claim the Junior WRC title.
Among the Greek drivers, Jourdan Serderidis with M-Sport’s Ford Puma Rally1 delivered a steady performance, securing the top spot. Chrysostomos Karellis with a Citroen C3 Rally2 followed in second place, and Themis Chalkias with a Renault Clio Rally3 took third place. Savas Lefkaditis emerged as the winner of the RC4 class, driving a Peugeot 2008 Rally4.