The gravel stages return this weekend in the most spectacular fashion as the World Rally Championship heads to Greece for the Acropolis Rally.
It’s a legendary event on the calendar, one that has provided plenty of entertainment and unexpected turns in the past, and this year should be no different.
Naturally, all eyes are on Kalle Rovanperä who will be looking to bounce back from retirement in Belgium, but there’s also the possibility that a certain nine-time world champion could upset the apple cart on one of his favorite events.
Here’s all the key information you need to know ahead of the weekend.
Total 69 crews
12 Priority 1 crews
39 Priority 2 crews (WRC2)
10 Priority 3 crews (WRC3)
8 Non-priority crews
The Rally1 lineup looks particularly different this weekend, primarily in the M-Sport camp.
M-Sport had originally planned to bring six crews to Acropolis, but that was reduced to five after the team announced that Adrien Fourmaux would not be taking part, as his car could not be repaired in time after his crash on Ypres Rally.
But while one of its regular drivers is missing, it’s compensated by the fact that Sébastien Loeb will return to the stages for the fourth time this year, while Jourdan Serderidis makes his second start with the team on his home event.
Elsewhere, Dani Sordo returns to the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 in place of Oliver Solberg, while Toyota is the only manufacturer to field an unchanged lineup for the event.
|69||Kalle Rovanperä||Jonne Halttunen||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1|
|8||Ott Tänak||Martin Järveoja||Hyundai i20 N Rally1|
|33||Elfyn Evans||Scott Martin||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1|
|11||Thierry Neuville||Martijn Wydaeghe||Hyundai i20 N Rally1|
|18||Takamoto Katsuta||Aaron Johnston||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1|
|42||Craig Breen||Paul Nagle||Ford Puma Rally1|
|4||Esapekka Lappi||Janne Ferm||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1|
|19||Sébastien Loeb||Isabelle Galmiche||Ford Puma Rally1|
|6||Dani Sordo||Candido Carrera||Hyundai i20 N Rally1|
|44||Gus Greensmith||Jonas Andersson||Ford Puma Rally1|
|7||Pierre-Louis Loubet||Vincent Landais||Ford Puma Rally1|
|9||Jourdan Serderidis||Frédéric Miclotte||Ford Puma Rally1|
Points leader Andreas Mikkelsen will make his second consecutive start as he aims to keep one hand on the WRC2 championship title.
He can’t be overtaken at the top of the standing on Acropolis even if he failed to start, but Yohan Rossel is still firmly in the mix and could make important inroads into Mikkelsen’s advantage with victory this weekend.
And if Mikkelsen doesn’t win on what is his final start, he will be under major pressure from the absent Kajetan Kajetanowicz too.
Teemu Suninen returns to the Hyundai i20 N Rally2 for the first time since Estonia and will be hoping to put in another strong performance, while Emil Lindholm will be attempting to make it two wins from two events after victory on his last appearance in Finland.
|20||Andreas Mikkelsen||Torstein Eriksen||Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo|
|21||Yohan Rossel||Valentin Sarreaud||Citroën C3 Rally2|
|22||Teemu Suninen||Mikko Markkula||Hyundai i20 N Rally 2|
|23||Nikolay Gryazin||Konstantin Aleksandrov||Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo|
|24||Eyvind Brynildsen||Roger Eilertsen||Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo|
|25||Emil Lindholm||Reeta Hämäläinen||Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo|
|26||Chris Ingram||Craig Drew||Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo|
|27||Bruno Bulacia||Marc Martí||Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo|
|28||Georg Linnamäe||James Morgan||Volkswagen Polo GTI R5|
|29||Fabrizio Zaldivar||Marcelo Der Ohannesian||Hyundai i20 N Rally 2|
The Junior WRC battle is going to go right down to the wire, and the top three are all separated by just a single point.
With up to 66 points on offer across the rally with championship points doubled and 16 stages offering one point per win, any one of Sami Pajari, Jon Armstrong, Robert Virves and Lauri Joona has a realistic chance of grabbing the title and a four-round European WRC2 program in a Ford Fiesta Rally2 next year.
William Creighton is also back behind the wheel of the Fiesta Rally3, making his first start since Estonia and leads the entry in WRC3.
|58||Sami Pajari||Enni Mälkönen||Ford Fiesta Rally3|
|59||Jon Armstrong||Brian Hoy||Ford Fiesta Rally3|
|60||Robert Virves||Julia Thulin||Ford Fiesta Rally3|
|61||Lauri Joona||Mikael Korhonen||Ford Fiesta Rally3|
|62||Williams Creighton||Liam Regan||Ford Fiesta Rally3|
There’s 188.46 miles of Acropolis gravel for the drivers to contend with this year.
And there’s also a spectacular superspecial stage to kick of proceedings in Athens’ Olympic stadium.
The rest of Friday will be spent tackling Loutraki and Harvati, before moving on to a single pass through Dafni, Livadia and Bauxites.
91.95 miles will be covered on Saturday as drivers take on the excruciating 20.6-mile Pyrgos test followed by the Perivoli and Tarzan stages.
Sunday’s final miles will then cover Eleftherochori – which will also be the powerstage – and Elatia-Rengini.