SPORTS

Rovanpera wins Acropolis Rally

rovanpera-wins-acropolis-rally

The Finnish crew of Kalle Rovanpera and Jonne Halttunen won the Acropolis Rally, after leading most of the four-day World Rally Championship race.

Rovanpera, driving a Toyota Yaris, beat Ott Tanak of the Hyundai team by 42.1 seconds. Rovanpera’s stablemate Sebastien Ogier, the defending champion, and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia, came third, 1 minute 11.3 seconds behind.

Rovanpera’s victory comes less than two months after he became, at 20, the youngest winner in WRC history by winning Rally Estonia.

After nine of the WRC’s 12 rounds, Ogier leads the standings with 180 points, ahrad of Elfyn Evans, with 136, and Thierry Neuville, with 130. Rovanpera (129 points) and Tanak (106) are in 4th and 5th place.

In the Manufacturers’ Championship, Toyota Gazoo (397 points) leads Hyundai Shell (340) and M-Sport Ford (153).

The 15-stage Acropolis Rally was held as part of the WRC for the first time since 2013. The return was celebrated Thursday with a crowd-pleasing, if short, special stage around Athens’ main Syntagma Square, won by Ogier. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis started the race at the foot of the Acropolis.  

The rally ended in the city of Lamia, central Greece, with most stages being held in the surrounding mountains.

Besides the often challenging terrain, the drivers had to contend with spectators standing too close to the road. 

It got to the point where the Toyota team released a video on Twitter, with all drivers taking turns at delivering a message.

“It’s fantastic to be back here in Greece and it’s great to see youR enthusiasm for rallying. But this weekend we have seen many spectators positioned in dangerous places for the stages. Please, do not stand too close to the road. Do not put yourself or others in danger. Listen to the marshals and the safety instructions. Stay safe and enjoy the rally,” the message said.

[AP]