Evans retires from Acropolis on road section

Elfyn Evans had been Toyota's best-placed driver with fourth place until technical drama befell his car


Elfyn Evans has retired from fourth place on the Acropolis Rally with a loss of engine power on the way to Sunday morning’s first stage.

Acropolis has been Toyota’s most difficult rally of the World Rally Championship season so far, with Esapekka Lappi retiring on Saturday and Kalle Rovanperä running outside the points after struggling with road sweeping and then crashing into a tree and damaging his suspension.

Although he was never fully at one with his car, Evans had been Toyota’s strongest performer and headed into Sunday just 7.1 seconds shy of Dani Sordo’s third place.

But mechanical problems stunted any desires Evans had on a rostrum finish. He and co-driver Scott Martin stopped in the Eleftherochori village which SS14 is named after, and wouldn’t go any further.

“Elfyn radioed on the way to SS14 that he was losing the engine power,” explained Kaj Lindström, Toyota sporting director. “OK, he did all the checks that can possibly be done but I think the only chance we had now was to withdraw him, and then we need to investigate when we get the car back.”

Third-placed Sordo was sporting in his reaction to Evans’ retirement: “I’m really disappointed for Evans,” he said. “He had an issue in the car, and also for Toyota.

“But for us, it was a little bit more easy for sure because if not, I’m sure Evans would put us under pressure to take this third place. But it’s rally, sometimes it’s like this, sometimes it’s not fair.”

Evans’ retirement was a mere sideshow to the battle out front between Hyundai team-mates Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak though, as the intensity ramped up.

Neuville has a seemingly comfortable lead, but Hyundai faced a quandary of whether it should ask Neuville to slow in order to let Tänak win, which could gain Tänak an extra seven points in the fight for the drivers championship.

Both Hyundai drivers were therefore on the limit – Tänak edging Neuville by 2.9s but the next quickest car, Craig Breen, by a massive 17.2s.


“Yeah, it was a push,” Tänak confirmed. “We know probably it’s not enough, but we keep pushing.”

Asked if there had been any talk of team orders in the morning service, Tänak laughed: “Nobody talked to me this morning, so I’m quite surprised about the management.”

Neuville lost ground but his lead still stands at 25s, and inevitably was asked about team orders.

But Neuville spun the narrative, pointing to Evans retirement and how that means no result is secured yet.

“I think with what happened this morning, Hyundai has to make sure we secure the first triple podium for the team,” Neuville said.

“If we can finally get there, it will be a fantastic result for the team after all this effort and hard times.”

It’ll be little consolation given this time yesterday it held a 1-2, but Evans’ exit has given M-Sport two cars in the top five with Pierre-Louis Loubet in fourth and Breen in fifth.

Breen was competitive on Sunday’s opener, unleashed again with a far better road position of second (and then first when Jourdan Serderidis retired) on the previous day.


“It’s easy when you have a decent road position,” Breen quipped.

“Honestly, I really enjoyed it, car felt amazing which maybe makes it more frustrating.”

Takamoto Katsuta likely can’t wait to jet off home after what’s been an incredibly frustrating and demoralizing Acropolis Rally Greece.

The attrition around him means Katsuta is on course for sixth place overall, but his feeling aboard his Toyota has been awful – and seemed to stoop to a new low on Sunday’s opener.

“I wanted to have a new day but it’s very difficult,” Katsuta said, “very difficult. Dangerous I would say.”

Katsuta was slowest of the Rally1 cars on SS14.

Gus Greensmith would’ve been in the top five had he not retired on Saturday afternoon with a mechanical problem, but as it is he has restarted under super-rally rules and running as first car on the road on Sunday.


Asked what caused his retirement yesterday, Greensmith was cagey but appreciative to be back out for the last three stages in Greece.

“The issue we had yesterday means we couldn’t restart the engine so we had to retire,” Greensmith said, “thanks to the guys yesterday they changed a lot of parts so we could continue today.”

Lappi was another to restart – losing second place on Saturday with a fuel delivery problem. He was 2.7s off Greensmith’s pace.

Rovanperä was next car on the road but couldn’t match either of them – losing four seconds relative to Lappi. Eleftherochori runs as the powerstage later on, but Rovanperä wasn’t hopeful of bagging any bonus points later.

“Really slim, or none,” he said, when asked what his chances were. “So let’s see, there is no pace to do anything else.”