Acropolis Rally Greece: Day 3 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing and Rovanperä lead in Greece
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team’s Kalle Rovanperä leads Acropolis Rally Greece with one day remaining following a dramatic Saturday.
Saturday would be the longest day of the rally with two loops of three stages totalling 70.76 competitive kilometres to be driven either side of mid-day service in Lamia. The opening Pavliani stage was still damp and muddy after torrential rain earlier this week, and Rovanperä set the fastest time while Sébastien Ogier also excelled to move into the rally lead past Thierry Neuville (Hyundai).
Neuville fought back in the next test, and Ogier ended the morning 10.9s from the lead. But the repeat of Pavliani would again prove challenging, and Ogier could retake the lead after Neuville had to stop with damage. There was still a twist left in the tail of the day, however, with Ogier hitting trouble in rough conditions on the final test, Eleftherohori, sustaining tyre and suspension damage. After attempting repairs he eventually had to retire from the leg, and the team will aim to prepare the car for a restart tomorrow.
Rovanperä won four consecutive stages to end the day leading by over two minutes in front of Dani Sordo (Hyundai), while Elfyn Evans is just five seconds behind Sordo in the fight for second place. Evans lost over a minute in SS9 which he completed in EV mode after picking up radiator damage, but managed to bring his car back to service so it could be repaired.
Takamoto Katsuta ran as high as fifth overall in his TGR WRC Challenge Program-supported entry before having to change two wheels in SS11, and he is now sixth overall.
Kaj Lindström (Sporting Director)
“We expected today to be a tough and challenging day and it certainly was, especially on the second pass of the stages during the afternoon loop which was demanding for the cars and the crews. Firstly we saw Neuville retiring, which was unfortunate for him, and then we saw Seb’s car sadly limping through the final stage. He was obviously in a good position before that so it’s a real pity what happened to him. For Kalle it was a good day: he did a smart drive again, pushing when he felt that everything was OK. Tomorrow there is not so much mileage, but it’s still enough for something to happen on a rally like this. Hopefully we can have both Kalle and Elfyn on the podium at the end.”
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“I think we had a good day today. We were fast and we were also really consistent, which is quite important in a rally like this. Like we saw today, a lot of things can happen. It’s not nice when those things happen to a team-mate, and Seb was driving a good rally. I had the championship to think about, so I tried to avoid taking the last risk all the time and it worked out pretty well. I can be pretty happy with the pace also. We were pushing hard but still driving clever, backing off in the rough places. Of course, tomorrow will still be a tricky day and we need to stay clever, but hopefully we can get it done.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“It’s been a tough day out there. It’s been quite a mix during the day with different conditions all the time. We picked up some trouble on the last stage before service this morning, so in one sense we’re lucky to still be in the rally. We didn’t have a lot of margin to get the car back but we managed to do it and although it was a shame to drop the time, it was good to still be in the fight. Then the afternoon was quite rough in places, and I was trying to look after the car as much as possible. I’m happy to be here tonight and it’s still all to fight for tomorrow.”
Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 17)
“It was a challenging start already this morning with some muddy sections in the first stage, and the last one was quite rough. Our first loop could have been better but I was happy to get through without big drama. Then the whole afternoon was quite eventful. In the place where Thierry had his issue, I also had an impact and some damage, but we managed to continue with good pace. Then, leaving the regroup before the last stage we lost hybrid. After a couple of kilometres we started to have a puncture at the rear, and then a second one. I tried to carry on slowly but unfortunately exiting a hairpin I heard a very small bang and the left-rear upright was broken. I tried everything I could to fix it and bring the car back, but it was too much.”
End of day three (Saturday):
1 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) 2h29m40.5s
2 Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +2m04.4s
3 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +2m09.4s
4 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +4m49.7s
5 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +6m16.2s
6 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +7m02.2s
7 Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +8m51.1s
8 Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +8m51.5s
9 Sébastien Ogier/Vincent Landais (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +9m47.6s
10 Yohan Rossel/Arnaud Dunand (Citroën C3 Rally2) +9m56.3s
(Results as of 19:30 on Saturday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
The final day’s action takes place north-west of Lamia, starting with a single run over the classic Tarzan test. A final service separates two passes of Grammeni, which last featured in the WRC in 2005 and hosts the rally-ending Power Stage.
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