High ambient temperatures, rocky, undulating roads and dust combine to make the Acropolis Rally one of the most taxing on the World Rally Championship calendar with car and crew subjected to a particularly stern test.
Greece returned to the WRC schedule in 2011 after missing out in 2010 when its absence was keenly felt, not just by the fans that descend on the event in great number, but also by the drivers. The Acropolis is one of the most iconic events in the sport and winning it earns significant kudos. It has only missed two years since the WRC was first established in 1973 (the other one being a non-WRC rally in 1995) and was a favourite of Colin McRae who won it an amazing five times.
Following a somewhat nomadic existence in the early part of the new millennium with the base chopping and changing between various locations around the Greek capital Athens, the move to Loutraki for 2009 proved a hit and the town on the east coast of the Gulf of Corinth will continue to host the rally in 2013 on the back of a successful return in 2011.
This year’s Acropolis itinerary is changed considerably from the 2012 edition. Following the Qualifying Stage over a 6.05-kilometre course on Friday morning (31 May) to decide the running order for day one, crews head east to the capital Athens and the famous Zappion for the ceremonial start. After that, the event proper begins with the marathon 47km Kineta-Pissa stage – the longest test of the rally – and then a late evening run of Kineta.
Saturday’s itinerary consists of eight stages over a demanding 12-hour period. With service during the day restricted to just one 30-minute halt in Loutraki, the challenge is further increased due to the limited amount of repair work that can be undertaken.
Sunday is a slightly more tame affair with just four stages. The event concludes with the repeat of the 30km Loutraki test, which is this year’s Acropolis Power Stage