WRC Acropolis Rally Greece: Rovanperä takes win, extends points lead to 33

WRC Acropolis: Rovanperä takes win, extends points lead to 33

Toyota WRC driver Kalle Rovanperä claimed his third win of the 2023 WRC season at Acropolis Rally Greece. The Finn extended his championship lead to 33 points with 3 more rallies to go this season.

Rovanperä inherited the lead on Saturday afternoon after both Thierry Neuville and Sébastien Ogier were forced to retire from the lead.

Neuville had a suspension failure in stage 10 after a heavy impact with a hole. The damage sustained in the impact meant that the Belgian went no further for the day. Neuville’s title hopes suffered big time as he is now 66 points behind Rovanperä with 3 rounds to go.

Sébastien Ogier got into the lead after Neuville’s retirement but hit a rock in the final stage of Saturday which damaged the suspension of the Frenchman’s Toyota GR Yaris Rally1. The eight-time WRC champion managed to finish the stage but had to retire on the road section to the service park, meaning that he had to officially retire for the day.

As a result of Neuville’s and Ogier’s retirements, Rovanperä inherited the lead late on Saturday with a comfortable gap of just over 2 minutes to second-placed Dani Sordo.

A Sunday drive was expected and delivered by Rovanperä, saving tyres on the first two stages for a big final push in the Power Stage. That final push came as he won the Power Stage with a 2.5-second advantage to take maximum points in Greece.

Evans secures Toyota 1-2

Elfyn Evans made it a Toyota 1-2 after overtaking Dani Sordo on the final day. Sordo finished just 4.2s behind Evans in the end. After halving Rovanperä’s championship lead last time out in Finland, Evans now drops eight points to Rovanperä in the championship fight.

Ott Tänak managed to climb to P4 on his comeback drive after incurring a penalty of 3 minutes and 40 seconds for leaving the Tyre Fitting Zone late on Friday. The Estonian faced engine problems meaning he had a big repair job to do which took longer than allowed.

Esapekka Lappi faced transmission problems on Saturday but managed to complete the day. Lots of time was lost but the Finn still finished in P5, ahead of Takamoto Katsuta who punctured two tyres in one stage, resulting in a big time loss.

Andreas Mikkelsen finished in P7 overall and won the WRC2 category in Greece. The Norwegian was 1 minute and 43.1 seconds off the WRC2 lead after Friday but managed to turn things around to take his third win of the season. Gus Greensmith trailed Mikkelsen by 10.3s to finish in P8 overall, ahead of Yohan Rossel and Sébastien Ogier who scored the final championship point.

Rovanperä WRC points lead up to 33 – Neuville trails by 66 points

Rovanperä extended his championship lead to 33 points over Evans thanks to his maximum score. Neuville is a further 33 points behind Evans, meaning that there is still a mathematical chance to win the title, albeit being a stretch, with only 90 more points up for grabs this season. Ott Tänak is now 15 points behind Neuville and 20 points ahead of Sébastien Ogier.

Toyota extends its championship lead thanks to the 1-2 finish in Greece. The Japanese manufacturer has a 91-point advantage over Hyundai.

Creighton JWRC champion

The Acropolis Rally was the final round of the 2023 Junior World Rally Championship. Ireland’s William Creighton won the championship despite finishing in P5 in Greece. Creighton won two rallies in the JWRC this season. Diego Domínguez won the Acropolis Rally with a big margin of 6 minutes and 52.6 seconds.

Next up for the WRC is a return to Chile. It’s the second time that the WRC will visit the country since the inaugural Rally Chile back in 2019. Rally Chile will run from 28 September – 1 October.

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WRC Acropolis Rally Greece 2023 – Results

#DriversCarTime / Diff. to 1st
1.Rovanperä / HalttunenToyota GR Yaris Rally13:00:16.7
2.Evans / MartinToyota GR Yaris Rally1+1:31.7
3.Sordo / CarreraHyundai i20 N Rally1+1:35.9
4.Tänak / JärveojaFord Puma Rally1+4:28.4
5.Lappi / FermHyundai i20 N Rally1+6:22.3
6.Katsuta / JohnstonToyota GR Yaris Rally1+7:20.9
7.Mikkelsen / EriksenSkoda Fabia RS Rally2+9:41.0
8.Greensmith / AnderssonSkoda Fabia RS Rally2+9:51.3
9.Rossel / DunandCitroën C3 Rally2+11:07.0
10.Ogier / LandaisToyota GR Yaris Rally1+11:43.4

WRC 2023 Drivers’ Championship – Standings after Round 10/13 [Top 10]

1.Kalle Rovanperä200
2.Elfyn Evans167
3.Thierry Neuville134
4.Ott Tänak119
5.Sébastien Ogier99
6.Esapekka Lappi98
7.Takamoto Katsuta66
8.Dani Sordo63
9.Teemu Suninen34
10.Pierre-Louis Loubet28

WRC 2023 Manufacturers’ Championship – Standings after Round 10/13

1.Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT430
2.Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT339
3.M-Sport Ford WRT220

Photo: Toyota Gazoo Racing