WRC Acropolis Rally Greece: The Good, The Unhealthy and an intra-team squabble

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High Performer – Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe

It had been nearly a 12 months since Thierry Neuville and co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe final tasted victory, on Rally Spain October final 12 months to be exact. So climbing the highest step of the rostrum in Greece final weekend was described as a “reduction”.

Neuville has been knocking on the door on a number of events this season, however has usually been let down by fragile equipment. That stated, driver error whereas main in Belgium maybe robbed him of his finest probability of a win previous to final weekend’s success.

In Greece, nonetheless, Neuville delivered. The Belgian duo scored extra stage wins (5) than anybody else as they led house a history-making maiden 1-2-3 for Hyundai, forward of Ott Tanak and Dani Sordo. Neuville drove neatly by means of arguably the roughest gravel levels of the season whereas his rivals fell by the wayside one after the other.

Finally the important thing to victory was his potential to stay solely 16.0s adrift of the lead battle after being fourth on the street on Friday. Whereas early leaders Sebastien Loeb and Pierre-Louis Loubet each hit hassle, Neuville was there to capitalise, and regardless of some overheating points his i20 N proved to be among the many most resilient.

Whereas the victory was ultimately secured as soon as Hyundai deployed workforce orders to safeguard its 1-2-3 end, Neuville had constructed up a 25s lead over Tanak earlier than the decision was made forward of the rally’s penultimate stage. This was the proper response from Neuville after the agony of letting a house victory slip from his grasp in Belgium.

The headline-making workforce orders spat between himself and Ott Tanak may have proved a distraction, however Neuville blocked the inner politics from his thoughts and duly delivered.

“It has been a troublesome season thus far and to get the victory after a really tough weekend in Belgium is a reduction,” stated Neuville. “A very powerful factor is we now have a 1-2-3 for the workforce – in any case these years we lastly bought it and it is a historic second for the model and the workforce. Everyone has labored laborious for this and it is a good reward.”

Ott Tanak, Martin Jarveoja, Hyundai World Rally Workforce Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photograph by: Fabien Dufour / Hyundai Motorsport

Honourable mentions: 

There are a number of drivers worthy of a particular point out following their heroics on the Acropolis.

Firstly, Tanak as soon as once more outlined his pure expertise and distinctive potential to drive round mechanical points. On Friday the 2019 world champion was with out using his hybrid increase, however by some means managed to drop solely 31.0s to then-leader Loeb on the finish of the day.

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Differential points hampered Tanak on the Saturday, however once more the Estonian remained within the combat for the lead battle earlier than the workforce referred to as off the combat between him and Neuville for the victory on Sunday. Tanak was understandably sad with the choice to carry station, being the best-placed driver from the workforce within the championship standings, and labelled the choice “a disgrace” to be denied a “honest combat”.

To his credit score, he left with the utmost factors he may muster by successful the rally-ending powerstage to shut to inside 53 factors of championship chief Kalle Rovanpera, who left the door open after his personal struggles in Greece.

Hyundai’s Dani Sordo once more proved his worth too, the Spaniard quietly going about his enterprise to finish Hyundai’s 1-2-3. This was his fifth consecutive podium from the WRC occasions he has contested, stretching again to final 12 months’s Rally Spain.

On the finish of final 12 months Pierre-Louis Loubet’s WRC future seemed bleak after a disastrous marketing campaign with 2C Competitors. That season ended with the Frenchman lacking the ultimate two rounds of the season as a result of a damaged hip, sustained after being hit by a street automobile when crossing a road in Paris.

Pierre-Louis Loubet, Vincent Landais, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Pierre-Louis Loubet, Vincent Landais, M-Sport Ford World Rally Workforce Ford Puma Rally1

Photograph by: McKlein / Motorsport Photos

Thrown a lifeline by M-Sport, the 2019 WRC2 champion seems a distinct driver in 2022 and in Greece he confirmed that he could possibly be an actual contender sooner or later. The 25-year-old scored his maiden WRC stage win, and took the lead on Friday earlier than backing that up with a second triumph within the following stage.

Loubet may have been a contender for a podium had he not suffered a puncture on Saturday that dropped him from second to seventh. He went on to guide M-Sport’s cost by equalling his career-best end of fourth.

At 48 years previous, nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb stays a drive to be reckoned with and rolled again the years to attain 4 stage wins to guide the rally on the finish of Friday. Whereas the Frenchman was aided by an advantageous street place, he confirmed his tempo was real on Saturday morning earlier than an alternator failure robbed M-Sport one other shot at victory.

Likewise, Craig Breen deserves credit score for ending his barren run of outcomes with a reputable fifth that would have been upgraded had he not suffered a puncture on Friday.

Lastly, the constant Robert Virves emerged as a driver to regulate sooner or later after securing the Junior WRC crown by scoring his maiden win within the sequence.

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Podium: Winners Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1, second place Ott Tanak, Martin Jarveoja, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1, third place Dani Sordo, Candido Carrera, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1 with the team

Podium: Winners Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Workforce Hyundai i20 N Rally1, second place Ott Tanak, Martin Jarveoja, Hyundai World Rally Workforce Hyundai i20 N Rally1, third place Dani Sordo, Candido Carrera, Hyundai World Rally Workforce Hyundai i20 N Rally1 with the workforce

Photograph by: Pink Bull Content material Pool

Workforce of the Week: Hyundai Motorsport

It’s laborious to think about a worse begin to a WRC season than the one Hyundai endured at Monte Carlo in January this 12 months. Its severely rushed and under-developed i20 N was each unreliable and lacked velocity.

Neuville battled by means of reliability points to complete sixth, nearly eight minutes adrift. Tanak crashed out, whereas the workforce was compelled to withdraw Oliver Solberg as a result of sickness from the fumes he had inhaled from contained in the cockpit.

Quick ahead to September and Hyundai delivered its first ever 1-2-3 to mark not solely its best-ever outcome within the WRC, however the first time the marque has received three consecutive rallies. Its fourth win of the season additionally matched its tally for many wins in a single season. The turnaround, amongst inner administration struggles, is nothing in need of unimaginable.

Hyundai has by some means managed to show the troublesome i20 N into a real challenger to pacesetters Toyota. Few would have predicted that its often-fragile equipment would show to be probably the most resilient machine on the Acropolis – Europe’s roughest rally – after Toyota had locked out the highest 4 on the Safari.

Hyundai’s 1-2-3 was dampened by a workforce orders squabble, but it surely should not detract from the job undertaken by the workforce to rework its fortunes after such a woeful begin to the season. Nevertheless, the decision to not swap its drivers Neuville and Tanak may show essential if it needs to problem for a drivers’ and producers’ double, and maybe maintain onto Tanak for 2023.

“What a historic second for our workforce and Hyundai, the primary time ever that we now have scored a triple podium,” stated Moncet. “Few would have wager on us at first of the season however right here we’re, again.

“Nonetheless, we have to push and to make use of the constructive momentum we have constructed up as further motivation. Thanks to all of the folks supporting us, and above all to these in our manufacturing facility. Reliability has confirmed once more to be one of many keys; our automobile has improved so much on this aspect since Monte-Carlo.”

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In distinction, it was Toyota’s worst spherical of the season thus far because it struggled for tempo and reliability, with Takamoto Katsuta its finest finisher in sixth. M-Sport additionally confirmed promise however once more misfortune and reliability proved its Achilles’ heel.

Sebastien Loeb, Isabelle Galmiche, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Sebastien Loeb, Isabelle Galmiche, M-Sport Ford World Rally Workforce Ford Puma Rally1

Photograph by: Pink Bull Content material Pool

Moments of Heartbreak

The Acropolis proved a troublesome nut to crack, leaving a number of WRC crews to ponder what may have been.

After lighting up the timing screens, Loeb had his sights on a fourth profession Acropolis win, having develop into the oldest driver to ever lead a WRC spherical on Friday. However frantic work to restore an alternator in the end resulted in retirement from the lead on Saturday. Likewise, a puncture for Loubet resulted in double heartbreak for M-Sport after it held a 1-2 on Friday.

 

 

Toyota additionally had its fair proportion of heartbreak as a gasoline strain challenge for Esapekka Lappi dropped the Finn out of second, whereas Elfyn Evans retired from fourth as a result of a turbo challenge on Sunday.

Nevertheless, throwing away the prospect of a WRC2 class win in entrance of 64,500 folks inside Athens’ Olympic stadium throughout the rally’s first stage marked a second to neglect for Andreas Mikkelsen.

 
Kalle Rovanpera, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Kalle Rovanpera, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photograph by: Toyota Racing

Fortunate Escapes

Championship chief Kalle Rovanpera can depend himself fortunate to some extent that sideswiping a tree, like Colin McRae did 20 years in the past on the 2002 Acropolis, didn’t lead to a extra critical accident. The Finn was capable of limp again to service and left the rally having salvaged 4 powerstage factors.

 

In the meantime, WRC2 driver Chris Ingram was lucky to flee unscathed from this horrifying roll down a mountain aspect.

 

High Tweets

Loeb added one other report to his prolonged checklist of World Rally Championship achievements.

 

The Acropolis is called the Rally of Gods and its simple to see why. 

 

Sizzling Photographs

Craig Breen, Paul Nagle, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Craig Breen, Paul Nagle, M-Sport Ford World Rally Workforce Ford Puma Rally1

Photograph by: M-Sport

Ott Tanak, Martin Jarveoja, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Ott Tanak, Martin Jarveoja, Hyundai World Rally Workforce Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photograph by: Fabien Dufour / Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Workforce Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photograph by: Pink Bull Content material Pool

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photograph by: Toyota Racing

Dani Sordo, Candido Carrera, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Dani Sordo, Candido Carrera, Hyundai World Rally Workforce Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photograph by: Austral / Hyundai Motorsport

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