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

Toyota’s Sebastien Ogier believes a podium finish at this weekend’s Acropolis Rally will be another “big step” towards an eighth World Rally Championship title.

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

Ogier heads into the final day of the iconic Greek gravel event sitting a comfortable third, 9.4 seconds behind Hyundai’s Ott Tanak, who is 30.8s behind rally leader Kalle Rovanpera.

Seven-time champion Ogier began the rally with a 38-point championship lead over rivals Elfyn Evans (Toyota) and Thierry Neuville (Hyundai), both of whom are unlikely to take away strong points after mechanical dramas caused delays on Friday.

A podium is likely to put Ogier in a strong championship position with three events remaining in what could be his last full WRC campaign. Finland and Spain will be followed by a yet-to-be confirmed final round, expected to result in Monza replacing the recently cancelled Rally Japan.

Ogier produced a measured drive in Saturday’s afternoon stages, admitting “it would not be wise for us to take a lot of risks” by trying to close in on runaway leader and team-mate Rovanpera.

“I would say it has been a good loop,” the Frenchman said when reflecting on Saturday afternoon's stages.

“It was better than this morning, I think. I was losing too much time, but it was better than going too fast and making mistakes.

“The main target is still out of reach at the moment and if we can finalise this podium, it will be another big step towards this title.”

Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Photo by: Toyota Racing

While Tanak's second place is within striking distance, Ogier is not planning to take any unnecessary risks on Sunday’s three stages.

“It is always important to keep a minimum of pressure [on Tanak],” he said.

“Ott had a big push in the last stage and did a good time and made a bit of a gap again, but we are not that far [away], so tomorrow we will not risk it more.

“But you never know. We are 10s behind with many kilometres to go, things can always happen.”

Latvala hails Acropolis leader Rovanpera

Toyota WRC boss Jari-Matti Latvala praised young charger Rovanpera's drive on the rocky Greek stages so far, labelling his morning loop performance “amazing” as the Finn sits as firm favourite to record his second win of the season.

Rovanpera blitzed his rivals across the morning loop to transform a 3.9s lead to a 39.7s advantage over Tanak, a drive aided by an inspired tyre call to mix hard and soft rubber.

“I must say he is a flying Finn at the moment,” said Latvala.

“Creating a [near] 40s lead over the morning is pretty amazing. I don’t know what he ate this morning or where it was coming from, but it is great to see his speed.”

Kalle Rovanperä, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, Sébastien Ogier, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Kalle Rovanperä, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, Sébastien Ogier, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Photo by: Toyota Racing

After his lead was reduced by Tanak in the final stage of the day, Rovanpera is pleased to have a healthy margin going into Sunday.

"It's never OK to be a bit slow, but we were still wise and not doing anything stupid, so that's the main thing,” said Rovanpera. “Tomorrow is a long day, so it's always better to have more margin than less."

Closest rival Tanak is not prepared to give up the fight after recovering from a sizeable time loss on stage 10 put down to an “impact” that was not a driver error, according to Hyundai boss Andrea Adamo.

“I'm not sure we can do much but I will try to do my best tomorrow and let’s see,” said Tanak.

“There are still long stages [ahead] so I'm pretty sure everything is still possible but I need to find a good rhythm.”

shares
comments

Related video

WRC Greece: Rovanpera in control as Tanak issues mini fightback

Previous article

WRC Greece: Rovanpera in control as Tanak issues mini fightback

Next article

WRC Greece: Rovanpera destroys opposition as rain hits final day

WRC Greece: Rovanpera destroys opposition as rain hits final day
Load comments
How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain Plus

How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain

While all pre-event chat focused on the two World Rally Championship title fighters, their closest challenger charged into the spotlight on Rally Spain. Thierry Neuville's star turn and another strong drive from Elfyn Evans in his fight with Sebastien Ogier made for an intriguing event as the 2021 campaign nears its crunch point

WRC
Oct 18, 2021
The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0 Plus

The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0

Two decades after Petter Solberg emerged as a World Rally Championship winner, his son Oliver is ready to take the WRC by storm. Having secured a part-time WRC factory drive for Hyundai in 2022, he's raring to repay the marque's faith in him and follow in his 2003 champion father's footsteps

WRC
Oct 14, 2021
Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season Plus

Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season

The World Rally Championship will step into a new hybrid era in 2022, but the car changes haven't been the only excitement that has built within the paddock. WRC's 'silly season' kicked off in a big way and all the key driver moves for 2022 - of which there are many - look set to shake things up

WRC
Oct 13, 2021
How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age Plus

How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age

By his own admission, the fifth World Rally Championship victory of Elfyn Evans' career in Finland last weekend was the drive of his life. Winning five stages in a row and soaking up huge pressure from the Hyundais on the fastest gravel stages around, the Welshman put in a faultless showing that proved what he is truly made of

WRC
Oct 4, 2021
Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant? Plus

Does Neuville have a point with his 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 the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains Plus

How the WRC's new flying Finn 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 Plus

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 Plus

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