WRC Acropolis Rally: Neuville pips WRC2 star Suninen to seize early lead

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Neuville blitzed the 1.95km side-by-side tarmac check in entrance of a bumper 60,000 crowd on Thursday night time, seeing off Toyota’s Elfyn Evans of their head-to-head contest to submit a time 0.1s quicker than WRC2 star Teemu Suninen, who set the early benchmark.

The return of the Olympic Stadium tremendous particular for the primary time since 2006 proved to be a success with the drivers and notably Neuville.

“It is prefer it ought to all the time be – such nice crowds and ambiance,” stated Neuville. “Congratulations to the organisers for placing this in place for us and for all of the spectators who got here in the present day.

“It exhibits that it is doable to carry enormous crowds to the WRC and we should always look to do extra on different occasions as nicely.”

Dani Sordo was third quickest, a second shy of Neuville because the Spaniard returned to the wheel of the third i20 N entry he’s sharing with Oliver Solberg this season.

Championship challenger Ott Tanak ensured Hyundai held the highest 4 positions because the 2019 champion beat factors chief Kalle Rovanpera within the closing Rally1 head-to-head of the night time.

Rovanpera’s time was ok for eighth, 1.5s adrift of Neuville however slower than WRC2 drivers Emil Lindholm in fifth and Gaurav Gill in sixth. 9-time world champion and M-Sport driver Sebastien Loeb, who defeated Toyota’s Esapekka Lappi of their duel, was seventh quickest.

Lappi endured an eventful run after grazing a concrete barrier with the left rear of his GR Yaris on a good right-hander after the crossover bounce. Fortunately, the Finn was in a position to attain the end – not like reigning WRC2 champion Andreas Mikkelsen, who crashed on the identical nook as Lappi.

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Esapekka Lappi, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Picture by: Toyota Racing

Mikkelsen’s impression precipitated extreme injury to his left entrance, which meant the Norwegian was unable to complete the stage.

“I feel it is solely beauty [damage],” stated Lappi, who recorded the tenth quickest time behind WRC2 driver Georg Linnamae. “I locked the wheels underneath braking after which I could not restart the engine. That is how it’s.”

M-Sport’s Craig Breen was eleventh quickest forward of WRC2 driver Chris Ingram and M-Sport’s Pierre-Louis Loubet.

Evans ended the stage in fifteenth, forward of M-Sport’s Gus Greensmith in seventeenth, whereas Takamoto Katsuta was nineteenth.

The rally correct begins on Friday with six aggressive gravel phases awaiting the crews.

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