In a season where the EKO Acropolis Rally undoubtedly played an important role in the World Rally Championship, Hyundai Motorsport achieved its first «1-2-3» after eight years of full involvement as a manufacturer!
Thursday’s Super Special Stage at Athens Olympic Stadium and the absolute dominance of Hyundai at the end of the rally, were the two main stories that will remain in Acropolis Rally history.
The Korean two-time World Rally Champion had to wait eight seasons before adding this achievement to its tally, combining it with its first victory on Greek soil. It is worth mentioning that the last time one manufacturer won all three podium places at the Acropolis Rally was back in 1989, when Lancia achieved a «1-2-3» finish with three Delta Integrale and Miki Biasion, Didier Auriol and Alessandro Fiorio behind the wheel.
From Saturday night, it seemed that everything was in place for Hyundai to achieve this historic result. Thierry Neuville, Ott Tanak and Dani Sordo occupied the Top-3 and all they needed was the Spaniard to keep Elfyn Evans’ Toyota Yaris Rally1 behind. Luck was in Hyundai’s side from early on, as the Yaris faced turbo problems before the first special stage of the day, resulting in Evans’ retirement. Only moments later, Hyundai gave clear orders to its drivers, to hold position, and secure this amazing result.
Being victorious at the Wolf Power Stage, Ott Tanak got additional and valuable points in his bid for the Title, where he is still chasing Kalle Rovanpera. Evans’ retirement allowed Pierre-Louis Loubet to move up to 4th position, equaling his best result in the championship. One position behind was his M-Sport Ford teammate, Craig Breen, who managed to climb back up in the standings, after the puncture he had on Friday. Takamoto Katsuta held Toyota’s flag high, finishing sixth, although this was an Acropolis Rally to forget for the Japanese team.
The number of retirements among the Rally1 crews, allowed the WRC2 drivers to climb high in the final classification. Thus, the Finnish Emil Lindholm with the Skoda Fabia Rally2, celebrated his second win of the season, after the one in his home rally, reaching the finish line of the last stage 7th overall. Nikolay Gryazin was second competing with the same car and managing to avoid problems. But the worth-mentioning performance of the rally came from the Cypriot Alexandros Tsouloftas-Ross Whittock in the Volkswagen Polo GTI who managed to secure a podium position, “overtaking” Eyvind Brynildsen and making the most of Johan Rossel’s unlucky moment during the Wolf Power Stage.
In the JWRC, the suspense lasted until the very end, with Robert Vivres taking the honours at the Youth Championship. The young Estonian took advantage of the problems of his main rivals and through a mature drive, he secured the prize of four races with a WRC2 car in 2023. However, the Brit Jon Armstrong tried until the end, hoping for a great comeback, but that wasn’t meant to be.
Among the Greek crews, Lambros Athanassoulas-Nikos Zakchaios were first with a Hyundai i20 N Rally2, although the Greek driver could not perform close to his high standards, due to the fact that he is still recovering from surgery.
EKO Acropolis Rally 2022 had it all! Agony, drama, twists and turns, plus intense competition, proving once more that it is among the best rallies of the World Championship. A rally that leaves its indelible mark in the history of motorsports.
For the EKO Acropolis Rally 2022 results .
For high-resolution photos .