Loeb co-driven by sports minister in Acropolis push

As part of the Acropolis Rally return effort, Greece’s deputy sports minister rides shotgun for multiple WRC champion

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There’s nothing like riding shotgun with a nine-time World Rally Champion to fully realize the potential for bringing the Acropolis Rally back to the sport’s elite. Just ask deputy minister of Culture and Sports Lefteris Avgenakis, who co-drove Sébastien Loeb at the Frenchman’s test last week.

Back in the i20 Coupe WRC for the first time since January, Loeb was dialing himself and the Hyundai into rough roads ahead of this week’s Rally of Turkey. And he was happy to show Avgenakis the sport from the inside.

Avgenakis said the wider world should take his presence alongside Loeb as a message.

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“It was a special and unique experience being in the cockpit next to a talented world class driver like Sébastien Loeb,” he said. “I want to thank him warmly. My presence at the test is because I want to send the message that the first attempts to restore our national motor race [WRC round] have begun.

“I want to make it clear that we are making an effort to heal and make up for the past [years without the Acropolis being involved in the WRC]. Greece is a country which is absolutely motorsport friendly and the state believes in Greek motorsport and embraces it.”

Avgenakis already outlined his commitment to a first WRC return since 2013, to DirtFish, saying: “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.

“Undoubtedly we also want a world championship rally for Greece.”