Rovanperä Tops Podium In Greece

September 12, 2023Joe Moore

EKO Acropolis Rally Greece has come to a close. Kalle Rovanperä topped the podium for the third time this season, along with a Toyota 1-2 finish. 

Day One 

Kalle Rovanperä took the lead on the first day of the event. Winning the SuperSpecial stage to take a 0.3 second lead over Esapekka Lappi heading into the second day. Thierry Neuville sat third, 0.1 seconds behind Lappi heading into the day. 

Day Two

Thierry Neuville took over the rally lead on SS2 and maintained it throughout day two. Although Neuville only won a single stage, he managed to take a 2.8 second lead into the third day. Kalle Rovanperä fell to third overall, 22.7 seconds behind Ogier. 

Day Three

Day Three was were things really kicked off. Kalle Rovanperä won 5 of the 6 stages on the day, to take the lead by the end of the day. That lead wasn’t as a result of the stage wins however. As Thierry Neuville retired due to a broken suspension early into the day. Handing Sebastien Ogier the lead as a result. Ogier maintained the lead until a broken suspension forced him to retire in the final stage of the day. Thus handing Rovanperä a near 2 minute lead over Elfyn Evans heading into the final day. 

Day Four

The fourth day was uneventful, Rovanperä played it safe and didn’t take any risks on the day. Elfyn Evans, Dani Sordo and Kalle Rovanperä each won a stage on the fourth day. With Rovanperä taking the Powerstage win to take home a maximum 30 points. Elfyn Evans finished second, while Dani Sordo finished third overall.

Drivers’ Championship Rundown

Kalle Rovanperä took home the EKO Acropolis Rally Greece win. Beating championship rival Elfyn Evans by over a minute in a half. Rovanperä now leads the drivers’ championship standings by 33 points over Evans. Thierry Neuville remains third, now 31 points behind Evans, not scoring any points in Greece. After a broken suspension took Neuville out of the event lead. Ott Tänak managed to remain fourth in the championship, finishing fourth overall in Greece. Tänak now sits 15 points behind Neuville. Sebastien Ogier also maintained fifth overall in the championship, taking home just a single point this weekend. Ogier now sits 20 points behind Tänak. Esapekka Lappi sits on the cusp of a top five spot in the drivers’ championship, just a single point behind Ogier. 

A Two-Horse Race 

Thierry Neuville’s broken suspension didn’t only cost him the EKO Acropolis Rally Greece win. It also cost Neuville pretty much any chance he had at winning the drivers’ championship this season. As Neuville now sits 66 points behind Rovanperä, with only 90 points available throughout the rest of the season. This of course means Neuville can still win the championship. However, Neuville’s championship hopes rely on Rovanperä and Evans both making mistakes in Chile. Mistakes are rare for Evans, and nearly unheard of for Rovanperä. This is rally, however, and anything is possible.

Tänak Comes Back

Ott Tänak came into EKO Acropolis Rally Greece looking for redemption. Tänak finished second at the event in both 2021 and 2022, Tänak’s redemption wasn’t with the event however. It was with the car and his luck in general. Tänak has had a lacklustre last couple of events. As a 5 minute penalty at the beginning of Rally Estonia ruined his chances of winning the event, although he did make a comeback and finish 8th at the event. Secto Rally Finland was one to forget for Tänak. As exposed bedrock destroyed Tänak’s oil pan ending his rally on SS3. EKO Acropolis Rally Greece also started badly for Tänak. As he was given a 3-minute and 40-second penalty for arriving 22 minutes late to SS3. Putting Tänak out of the running to take home the event win or finish second for the third straight season. However, the penalty didn’t stop Tänak. As the Estonian pushed back into a top-five spot. He was helped by other drivers having misfortune, however. Nonetheless, Tänak did something pretty amazing considering how unreliable the Puma’s have been as of late. 

 A Battle For Third

The Drivers’ championship is now down to a two-horse race with Neuville out of the running. However, a battle for the championship lead isn’t going to be the only battle taking place throughout the remainder of the season. As Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak will battle for the final podium spot. With just 15 points separating the former teammates.