WRC Acropolis Rally Greece: Everything you need to know

The World Rally Championship visits the Acropolis Rally Greece this weekend with the prospect of a new champion being crowned on the iconic tough gravel roads.

WRC Acropolis Rally Greece: Everything you need to know

The punishing Greek stages are set to provide one of the hardest tests of the season for the new 2022 Rally1 cars.

Toyota’s Kalle Rovanpera heads to Greece with a realistic chance of wrapping up the championship which would see the Finn become the youngest ever world champion.

The 21-year-old holds a 72-point lead over Hyundai’s Ott Tanak and would leave Greece as the world champion if he outscores his rival by 18 points. Tanak is however the championship’s in-form driver having won the last two rounds in Belgium and Finland to reduce Rovanpera’s previous 94 point advantage.

Rovanpera will be among the contenders to shine in Greece after scoring victory on the Acropolis Rally last year.

While all eyes will be on the title battle between Rovanpera and Tanak, the Acropolis will welcome back a three-time winner in nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb, who will rejoin M-Sport Ford for a fourth outing this year.

Loeb is expected to be in the mix for the victory despite his last outing on the Greek roads being 10 years ago in 2012, an event he emerged victorious.

Sebastien Loeb, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

Sebastien Loeb, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

Photo by: M-Sport

Toyota’s Elfyn Evans and Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville remain mathematically in the title battle heading into the event sitting third and fourth in the standings, but will need misfortune to strike Rovanpera and Tanak to prolong their fading title aspirations.

M-Sport will field five Ford Pumas with Loeb joined by regulars Craig Breen and Gus Greensmith, while partial campaigners Pierre-Louis Loubet, gentleman driver Jourdan Serderidis plus Loeb return to the WRC.

There is also a change at Hyundai with the experienced Dani Sordo taking over the third I20 N he shares with Oliver Solberg.

What is Acropolis Rally Greece?

The Acropolis Rally is a founding member of the World Rally Championship and is regarded as one of the world’s toughest to conquer.

The rough, twisty Greek mountain gravel stages, often held in searing heat, have earned the event the nickname “the rally of the gods”, while many have labelled the rally the ‘European Safari’ such are the demands it poses on car and driver.

The rally made its debut in 1951 making it one of the oldest competitions in world rallying. Back then it was a true 800km marathon compared to the shortened 300km version today.

Apart from 1974, when it was cancelled due to an oil crisis, and 1995, when it was an FIA Two-Litre Cup round only, it ran as a WRC round from 1973 until 2009. It returned in 2011, but was dropped from the WRC at the end of 2013, after which it became a European Championship round.

Now based out of Lamia, three hours north-west of Athens, the rally returned to the WRC calendar last year with Toyota’s Kalle Rovanpera and Jonne Halttunen emerging victorious.

Winner Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Winner Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Photo by: Toyota Racing

Acropolis Rally Greece winners

A total of 23 drivers have won the Acropolis Rally since the inaugural WRC edition was held back in 1973.

The late Colin McRae remains the undisputed king of the Acropolis having scored five wins on the tough Greek gravel. The 1995 world champion was victorious in 1996, 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2002 ensuring Greece was the Scot’s most successful WRC destination during his career.

Former WRC champions Walter Rohrl, Miki Biasion, Carlos Sainz and Loeb boast the next best record as three-time Acropolis winners.

Ford is the most successful manufacturer at the event having chalked up 13 wins.

Acropolis Rally Greece itinerary

This year’s edition will be contested over 16 stages, comprising 303.30km across four days of competitive action.

Thursday 8 September
Shakedown - begins 0601 BST - 0801 local
Stage 1 - begins 1808 BST - 2008 local

Friday 9 September (6 stages - 110.26km)
Stage 2 - Stage 7 - begins 0553 BST - 0753 local

Saturday 10 September (6 stages - 147.98km)
Stage 8 - Stage 13 - begins 0633 BST - 0833 local

Sunday 11 September (3 stages - 45.06km)
Stage 14 - Stage 16 - Final stage begins 1118 BST - 1318 local

Dani Sordo, Borja Rozada, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

Dani Sordo, Borja Rozada, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Acropolis Rally Greece Entry List (Rally1) - Road order

Acropolis Rally Greece will feature 69 entries headlined by 12 Rally1 cars.

#69 Kalle Rovanpera/Jonne Halttunen - Toyota Gazoo Racing - GR Yaris Rally1
#8 Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja - Hyundai Motorsport - i20 N Rally1
#33 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin - Toyota Gazoo Racing - GR Yaris Rally1
#11 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe - Hyundai Motorsport - i20 N Rally1
#18 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston - Toyota Gazoo Racing - GR Yaris Rally1
#42 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle - M-Sport Ford World Rally Team - Puma Rally1
#4 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm- Toyota Gazoo Racing - GR Yaris Rally1
#19 Sebastien Loeb/Isabelle Galmiche - M-Sport Ford World Rally Team - Puma Rally1
#6 Dani Sordo/Candido Carrera - Hyundai Motorsport - i20 N Rally1
#44 Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson - M-Sport Ford World Rally Team - Puma Rally1
#7 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais - M-Sport Ford World Rally Team - Puma Rally1
#9 Jourdan Serderidis/Frederic Miclotte - M-Sport Ford World Rally Team - Puma Rally1

What’s new for WRC in 2022?

This year represents the introduction of new Rally1 regulations designed to move the WRC into a much more sustainable future and to attract new manufacturers. They have resulted in Hyundai, Toyota and M-Sport Ford designing and building all-new cars around a new safer, steel spaceframe chassis.

The biggest change to the cars is the introduction of a mandatory 100kW hybrid unit coupled to the 1.6-litre turbocharged internal combustion engine, the only key component carried over from the previous generation of cars. In tandem, this will allow the powertrain to develop 500bhp to be used in short bursts across every stage.

Cars will be up 70kg heavier than their predecessors, this is mainly due to the addition of the hybrid system. In total, Rally1 machines will weigh in at approximately 1260kg.

Gus Greensmith, Jonas Andersson, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Gus Greensmith, Jonas Andersson, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Photo by: M-Sport

The new regulations have effectively abolished extra aerodynamic devices such as wings and flicks being added to the bodywork outside of the front splitter and rear wing. The overall downforce created and its effect on the car has been reduced by approximately 15% compared to the previous generation of vehicle.

Trick centre differentials used to fine tune handling are now banned in favour of a simpler front and rear mechanical limited-slip differentials offering a fixed 50:50 toque split between the front and rear wheels. Suspension travel has been reduced to 270mm.

How does the Rally1 hybrid system work?

Drivers will have the use hybrid power during every stage, with power boosts activated by the throttle pedal, while further boosts will be unlocked through energy regeneration under braking during stages.

Pilots will be required to regenerate 30 kilojoules of energy before another boost is granted that will be used the next time they touch the throttle pedal.

The extra 130 horsepower is delivered through the use of three bespoke homologated engine maps selected by teams, depending on the type of stage and conditions.

Determined by the FIA and event organisers, drivers will be required to navigate parts of road sections and around event service parks in full electric mode.

In full electric mode the car has a range of 20km, while its 3.9KWH battery, operating up to 750 volts, can be plugged in and recharged in the service park within 30 minutes. The hybrid unit can withstand an impact of 70G.

The cars are powered by a 100% sustainable fuel.

WRC TV camera

WRC TV camera

Photo by: WRC.com

How can I follow Acropolis Rally Greece

Autosport will be providing reports, interviews and reaction.

Motorsport.tv will also have regular highlights both during and after each WRC round in 2022.

Pay television

WRC Plus All Live will provide live coverage from every stage.

BT Sport will live action and provide daily highlights shows from every event this season.

Free to air television UK

ITV4 will broadcast highlights on Tuesday 13 September.

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