The Acropolis Rally – one of the World Rally Championship’s most iconic events – is working towards a potential return to the series as soon as 2022.
DirtFish understands the Greek event will push for European Rally Championship inclusion next season, returning to the ERC after a two-year absence, before moving forwards again to chase a WRC calendar slot the year after.
Not seen in the WRC since Jari-Matti Latvala’s victory in 2013, Greece’s governing body of motorsport is now in regular contact with WRC Promoter with an eye to being back on its list of events as soon as possible.
The first hint of movement from the Hellenic Motorsport Federation came when minister for sport Lefteris Avgenakis outlined plans to bring major motorsport events back to Greece at an announcement outside the Acropolis in Athens in June.
Avgenakis sanctioned a potential agreement with WRC Promoter to run cross-team WRC test sessions in September. Those discussions floundered when the teams were unable to find common agreement on the timing of the test. But the desire to see rallying’s premier series return to one of its classic rounds remains.
The backing of Greece’s prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who is ready to commit the budget to bring WRC back to his country, places Greece in a strong position.
Avgenakis told DirtFish of the Acropolis Rally readiness to return to the WRC.
“The Greek Government and the Ministry of Sports strongly support motorsport and are willing to work with the Hellenic Motorsport Federation and the FIA in order to host international motorsport events in Greece,” he said. “Undoubtedly we also want a World Championship Rally for Greece.”
First held in 1951, the Acropolis was a founding round of the WRC 22 years later and remained a firm favorite with fans – if something of a challenge for the world’s best rally drivers – until a lack of funding forced it out of the world championship seven years ago.
Sources have confirmed much of the old team has been mobilized and is working on a potential route for next season with a potentially more realistic eye towards 2022.
One source said: “It’s been very impressive how quickly we have been able to pull everything together. There’s a genuine appetite from all around the sport for Greece to be back at the top of world rallying with an iconic event like the Acropolis.
“There’s no doubt we could have been ready for this year, we told the promoter we could have run an event in October, but it wasn’t possible without us running a candidate event – that’s understandable given that we have been away from the WRC for a while.
“We all understand the restrictions for the calendar next year and with just one or two spaces open, it’s probably more realistic to look forward towards 2022.
“If we can’t do it this year then we’re absolutely focused on then .”