Kalle Rovanperä won the third stage of Acropolis Rally Greece to reduce Thierry Neuville’s lead in the overall classification to two seconds.
The Pissia stage is only run once, and unlike the day’s opening test showed how much rain has fallen on this area of Greece in the days preceding the rally. There were big ruts, deep puddles and one bump in particular that sent the rear end of cars flying high.
Rovanperä and Toyota team-mate Takamoto Katsuta shared the honors for most spectacular navigation of that bump, with the former demonstrating the severity of it by being the first to encounter it, while Katsuta avoided rolling his Yaris Rally1.
Despite that dramatic moment, Rovanperä set the pace by 3.1s over Hyundai’s Neuville, with Sébastien Ogier a further 0.3s behind on his first World Rally Championship outing since June.
M-Sport Ford’s Ott Tänak was fourth fastest, 7.2s off the pace, and dropped from second to fourth in the overall classification behind Rovanperä and Ogier.
Just 4.6s splits leader Neuville and third-placed Ogier.
Elfyn Evans dropped nine seconds to Rovanperä and said the stage “felt pretty hard on the car”, and he is now 12.5s back in fifth at the end of the morning. For the afternoon loop, the day’s first test Loutraki is repeated and then the stages get longer and rougher with the 13-mile Livadia followed by the 17.6-mile Elatia.
It’s been a difficult morning for M-Sport with the loss of Pierre-Louis Loubet, but Adrien Fourmaux leads WRC2 for the team ahead of Yohan Rossel and Kajetan Kajetanowicz.
Points leader Andreas Mikkelsen had a puncture on his Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 for the second stage in a row, and Oliver Solberg’s car coasted to a stop after suffering from a continuing fuel pressure problem on SS2.