Greece WRC: Rovanpera in control as Tanak issues mini fightback

Toyota’s Kalle Rovanpera remains favourite to win the World Rally Championship’s return to the Acropolis Rally despite a mini fightback from Hyundai’s Ott Tanak on Saturday afternoon.

The Finn recorded four stage wins to open up a 39.7s lead before Tanak responded by winning the final test of the day to reduce the margin to 30.8s heading into Sunday’s final three stages.

Championship leader Sebastien Ogier ended the day third, 40.2s adrift of Rovanpera, but only 9.4s behind Tanak, while Hyundai’s Dani Sordo is in no man’s land in fourth position.  

The M-Sport Ford pair of Adrien Fourmaux and Gus Greensmith were locked in battle for fifth and will head into the final day split by 15.8s.

Elfyn Evans recovered from from Friday’s gearbox problem to climb from 16th to seventh (5m51.9s), while Thierry Neuville surged from 18th to 10th after his mechanical dramas yesterday.    

Rovanpera recorded his fourth consecutive stage win to underline his stunning pace with victory on Stage 10.

The Toyota driver was fastest by 6.5s from teammate Ogier but took an eye-opening 18.3s out of Tanak, who reported no unusual issues on the stage to explain the time drop. 

Despite being caught out be a tight left-hand hairpin towards the end of the test, Neuville and Evans finished with third and fourth-fastest times to continue their rise up the leaderboard.

Shortly after the final WRC runner had completed the test, organisers red flagged and then cancelled the stage due to spectators being in dangerous locations. 

Greensmith was lucky to avoid a sizeable crash after a wild moment on the test as he continued to hunt down his teammate Fourmaux. 

Stage 11 was a repeat of the day’s first test where Rovanpera shocked the field with his blistering pace.

However, on the second pass he produced a much more reserved run as the streak of stage wins was halted by Ogier. The Frenchman who had earlier claimed “it would not be wise for us to take a lot of risks” set the benchmark time which was 1.1s faster than Tanak, who recovered some time lost on the previous stage.

The result saw the championship leader close to within 2.5s of Tanak for second overall.  

Rovanpera dropped 6.2s to Ogier before revealing at stage end that he’d struggled with the extra weight from carrying two spares wheels.

“Not happy with this stage. It was difficult with two spare wheels - a bit more difficult than I was expecting to be honest,” said Rovanpera. “In the slow and narrow parts it felt a bit lazy.”

Sordo fell further towards the battling M-Sport Fords of Fourmaux and Greensmith in the minor placings after dropping 21.7s to Ogier on the stage.       

The final stage of the day belonged to Tanak, who looked a different driver compared to his first pass through the roads that hosted Stage 10. 

The Estonian, aided by soft rubber and a set-up tweak, was 3.8s faster than Rovanpera, while Ogier clocked a time 3.1s slower.

"I managed to do some changes which finally helped something,” said Tanak. “I felt the car a bit more playful now and the tyre choice was good." 

In WRC2, Marco Bulacia reclaimed the lead in the class from Andreas Mikkelsen on the final stage of the day, only 0.8s separates the pair.

Yohan Rossel leads WRC3 by 19.1s from Kajetan Kajetanowicz with Britain’s Chris Ingram third. 

The Acropolis Rally concludes with three stages on Sunday, with the first beginning at 0508 GMT. 

shares
comments
Greece WRC: Flying Finn Rovanpera blitzes rivals in Greek mountains

Previous article

Greece WRC: Flying Finn Rovanpera blitzes rivals in Greek mountains

Next article

Ogier: Acropolis podium will be "big step" to eighth WRC title

Ogier: Acropolis podium will be "big step" to eighth WRC title
Load comments
Does Neuville have a point with his WRC Rally1 rant? Prime

Does Neuville have a point with his WRC Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How Rovanpera reached new heights in the Greek mountains Prime

How Rovanpera reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Prime

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Prime

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021
Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit? Prime

Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit?

OPINION: The Ypres Rally featured a cameo from the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in its final stage, giving WRC teams the chance to experience its iconic corners in rallying machinery. It proved to be an engaging addition to the rally, and could perhaps serve as an example for other events to visit famous circuits

WRC
Aug 24, 2021
Home hero Neuville delivers overdue WRC success for Hyundai in Belgium Prime

Home hero Neuville delivers overdue WRC success for Hyundai in Belgium

With limited recent fortune and pressure starting to mount, Hyundai needed a big result at the Ypres Rally. All the key components came together in Belgium to see home hero Thierry Neuville lead a manufacturer 1-2 and kickstart its World Rally Championship challenge

WRC
Aug 16, 2021
The new car that can resurrect Ford's WRC winning pedigree Prime

The new car that can resurrect Ford's WRC winning pedigree

M-Sport has become the first to unveil its new-for-2022 hybrid World Rally Championship challenger, the Puma Rally1. Ford has upped its support in a bid for glory, but can the new machine roll back the years and return the Blue Oval to the top of the WRC tree?

WRC
Aug 12, 2021
The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies Prime

The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies

French drivers have dominated the World Rally Championship across the past two decades; Sebastiens Loeb and Ogier have racked up the titles in commanding fashion. With Ogier calling it a day on full-time WRC competition from next year, France will pin its long-term hopes on rookie Adrien Fourmaux, who looks to have a bright future.

WRC
Aug 7, 2021