Thierry Neuville grabbed victory in the Acropolis Rally Greece after a commanding final day in which he led home a Hyundai 1-2-3.
Neuville finished 15s ahead of teammate Ott Tanak with Dani Sordo 1min 49.7s behind to secure a commanding finish for the Korean Manufacturer. Ott Tanak also secured five bonus points after winning the Wolf Power Stage ahead of Kalle Rovanpera and Craig Breen.
SS14 provided more drama for Toyota, Elfyn Evans’s Yaris developed turbo problems on the way to the start of the opening stage of the day. This meant that the Hyundai trio at the top of the standings were able to strengthen their grip on the podium.
Neuville lost 2.9s to Tanak although the gap was still 25s at the end, but Evan’s retirement meant that Dani Sordo had just under a two-minute gap to Pierre-Louis Loubet. Craig Breen and Takamoto Katsuta didn’t make any significant inroads, the duo 4min, and 5min away from Neuville respectively.
Neuville would gain time back on Tanak on SS15 to go into the final stage with a 29.3s gap but otherwise, there wasn’t much movement as the drivers were now looking to the Wolf Power Stage as their next chance for points.
The power stage was set for drivers who hadn’t had the best rally to salvage something. Ott Tanak would win the stage by 3s from Kalle Rovanpera. Rovanpera missed another chance to secure the Driver’s title and was not content with the points given the wider context of the rally. Craig Breen rounded off the power stage podium 6.4s behind Tanak.
Despite shipping 14s to his teammate on the final stage, Neuville had done enough to take victory and head the Hyundai 1-2-3 overall with Dani Sordo in third.
“It has been a tough season so far and to get a victory after a very difficult weekend in Belgium is a relief. The most important thing is we have a 1-2-3 for the team – after all these years we finally got a historical moment for the brand and the team…”
Despite Loubet and Breen finishing fourth and fifth overall for Ford, this must go down as a missed opportunity after leading 1-2 on Friday. Katsuta ended the rally in sixth in what was ultimately, a poor showing from Toyota.
Top 6 after final day:
- Neuville 3hr 34min 52s
- Tanak +15.0s
- Sordo +1min 49.7s
- Loubet +3min 42.2s
- Breen +4min 09s
- Katsuta +6min 21.1s
Rally New Zealand is next up on 29/9 – 2/10 for Round 11. Sebastien Ogier returns for Toyota as we all as Oliver Solberg back at Hyundai.