Rovanperä in control after Saturday WRC Acropolis Rally

Rovanperä in control after Saturday WRC Acropolis Rally

Toyota WRC driver Kalle Rovanperä has a 30.8 second lead over Ott Tänak heading into the final day of Acropolis Rally Greece.

The 20-year-old, who scored his maiden FIA World Rally Championship victory in Estonia two months ago, is on course for his second after a blistering turn of speed on rocky mountain roads in central Greece.

Friday’s enthralling opening leg left Rovanperä, Ott Tänak and Sébastien Ogier blanketed by 3.9sec overnight. But the Finn won the first four of today’s six speed tests in the Fthiotida mountains south of Lamia to build a lead of almost 40sec in his Toyota Yaris.

He eased his pace slightly in this afternoon’s two repeat stages, in which the surface was rougher in places and polished in others, to end the longest day of this ninth round with a 30.8sec advantage over a duelling Tänak and Ogier.

Rovanperä, competing in Greece for the first time, was fortunate to escape when the rear of his Yaris slid into a ditch in the morning’s Bauxites stage.

“It was a huge moment, I was pushing a bit too much,” he smiled. “When we made some set-up changes to gain some protection in the afternoon’s rough sections we lost a little bit of traction. But we were wise and not doing anything stupid, it’s still a long way to the end of the rally.”

Tänak distanced Ogier with the second fastest time in each of the first three tests, but slipped back into the Frenchman’s clutches with a lacklustre drive in the next.

The margin plunged to 2.5sec but set-up changes allied with softer compound Pirelli tyres enabled the Estonian to widen the gap to 9.4sec in his Hyundai i20.

Ogier was unconcerned. With nearest title rivals Elfyn Evans and Thierry Neuville still climbing the order after problems yesterday, the reigning champion knows a podium in his Yaris would further enhance his 38-point lead.

Dani Sordo was a lonely fourth in an i20. The Spaniard struggled to find a set-up with which he was comfortable and an error-free day placed him almost 90sec adrift of Ogier and nearly 70sec ahead of Adrien Fourmaux’s Ford Fiesta.

Fourmaux dropped time after nosing into a roadside barrier but the Frenchman stayed ahead of team-mate Gus Greensmith, who conceded a handful of seconds with a spin. The margin between the M-Sport Ford duo was 15.8sec.

Sunday’s finale totals 69.25km west of Lamia. A double run through the legendary Tarzan sandwiches a single pass of Pyrgos, the longest test of the rally. The second run of Tarzan forms the Wolf Power Stage, with bonus points on offer in the drivers’ and manufacturers’ series.

Follow the rally and don’t miss anything of the action via:

WRC Acropolis Rally Greece 2021 Standings after SS12 (End of Saturday)

#DriversCarTime / Diff. to 1st
1.Rovanperä / HalttunenToyota Yaris WRC2:36:52.8
2.Tänak / JärveojaHyundai i20 Coupé WRC+30.8
3.Ogier / IngrassiaToyota Yaris WRC+40.2
4.Sordo / CarreraHyundai i20 Coupé WRC+2:09.4
5.Fourmaux / JamoulFord Fiesta WRC+3:19.2
6.Greensmith / PattersonFord Fiesta WRC+3:35.0
7.Evans / MartinToyota Yaris WRC+5:51.9
8.Bulacia Wilkinson / Der OhannesianSkoda Fabia Rally2 Evo+7:09.0
9.Mikkelsen / EdmondsonSkoda Fabia Rally2 Evo+7:09.8
10.Neuville / WydaegheHyundai i20 Coupé WRC+7:47.6

Photo: Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool