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Rovanpera claims victory in brutal Acropolis Rally

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The Toyota driver was one in every of two Rally1 entries to finish the occasion’s attritional 15 levels and not using a delay, affording the Finn a snug profitable margin of 1m31.7s over title rival and team-mate Elfyn Evans.

Rovanpera led the rally after profitable Thursday evening’s asphalt tremendous particular in Athens however dropped to 3rd when the rally tackled Greece’s notoriously tough gravel roads.

The levels have been made much more difficult due to torrential rain earlier within the week, courtesy of Storm Daniel, which disrupted preparations and compelled organisers to cancel Thursday’s shakedown.

Going through the drawback of beginning first on the street, Rovanpera was capable of restrict the time loss, helped by moist and muddy situations on Friday morning. His solely scare got here when he virtually rolled on stage three after hitting a compression attributable to the acute climate.

The Finn headed into Saturday’s a lot drier and conventional levels 25.5s adrift of chief Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville, who headed Toyota’s part-time driver Sebastien Ogier.

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Neuville and Ogier have been locked in a battle for the victory, with the latter briefly overhauling the Belgian on Saturday morning, earlier than Neuville fought again to open up a ten.9s lead.

Rovanpera introduced himself into the victory battle after reeling off 4 consecutive stage wins, earlier than being thrust right into a shock lead on Saturday afternoon when Neuville and Ogier each hit hassle.

Neuville hit a gap on stage 9, inflicting terminal harm to his i20 N’s front-right suspension, handing the lead again to Ogier.

Nonetheless, on stage 12, the ultimate check of the afternoon loop, Ogier picked up a double rear puncture. However the collapse of his left-rear suspension moments later after an affect finally compelled the eight-time world champion into retirement.

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photograph by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Having averted punctures or mechanical points, Rovanpera was offered with a sizeable 2m04.4s lead, which afforded the championship chief the chance to cruise to victory.

Rovanpera boosted his factors tally by beating Evans by 2.5s to win the Energy Stage, which helped prolong his championship lead over Evans to 33 factors.

Evans produced a formidable fightback from a mechanical subject on Saturday to complete second. The Welshman abruptly slowed throughout stage 9 with a suspected overheating downside on his GR Yaris that value him greater than a minute, dropping him to fifth.

A roadside restore saved Evans within the battle rising again to 3rd behind Hyundai’s Dani Sordo following the retirements of Neuville and Ogier.

Evans grew to become embroiled in an in depth battle with Sordo, who managed to keep away from any issues to steadily climb the leaderboard.

However Sordo was unable to carry off Evans, dropping out on second spot by 4.2s.

M-Sport’s Ott Tanak recovered from a 3m40s penalty for being 22 minutes late from a Friday tyre becoming zone because of a sudden water pump failure to complete fourth (+4m28.4s).

Tanak dropped to thirty second after the penalty however climbed again to the identical place he held earlier than the mechanical downside occurred.

Tanak’s team-mate Pierre-Louis Loubet may solely full Thursday’s tremendous particular after struggling a terminal water pump subject on Friday morning.

Hyundai’s Esapekka Lappi encountered a number of delays on his solution to fifth (+6m22.3s). The Finn broken his radiator on Friday, which required a visit to a restaurant to fetch water to maintain his i20 N going.

He was additional held up by alternator and driveshaft failures however was capable of nurse the automobile by means of to the end.

Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta was the final of the everlasting Rally1 drivers to finish the complete distance in sixth (7m20.9s). The Japanese misplaced greater than 4 minutes following a double puncture in stage 11.

In WRC2, Andreas Mikkelsen produced an unimaginable restoration from three Friday punctures to rise from twelfth in school to take victory, ending seventh general within the course of. Gus Greensmith, Yohan Rossel and Ogier, who rejoined the motion on Sunday, accomplished the highest 10.


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