WRC - Shortened Acropolis 'showed its teeth'

Acropolis Rally organisers reckon the early upsets on last weekend's event proved that shortening the route had not diminished the rally's challenge.

WRC - Acropolis keen on ERC slot after WRC departure

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Petter Solberg on the Acropolis Rally in 2012 (AFP)

With a route 60 miles shorter than 2012, there were fears the Greek round of the World Rally Championship might become easier, but an opening stage that ruled out three of the main players in the event - including WRC leader Sebastien Ogier – allayed those fears.

Rally director Pavlos Athanassoulas said: "This rally showed its teeth. It doesn't matter if we have 300 kilometres like this year or 400 like last year, this is the

Acropolis and this rally is tough – and we want it to be tough.

"When we looked at what to do this year, we wanted to give the drivers a headache. And we decided to run the longest stage of the rally right at the start to cause problems.

"It was always going to be impossible to have this long stage right at the start and not to have issues. We knew there would be dramas in there and then we sent them into the night stages.

"This was perfect, this was the Acropolis Rally and it won't change."

M-Sport team principal Malcolm Wilson says the WRC needs potential car-breakers like the Loutraki-based event.

"It's a classic in the WRC," said Wilson. "It's thrown up more excitement, more adventure in the first day and a half than probably any other event this year.

"It's the most demanding and difficult event in the championship. You need events of this character in WRC."

Athanassoulas is hoping to return the event to Athens' Olympic Stadium for a ceremonial start and superspecial next year.

He added that tickets would be priced at €15 to ensure a sell-out crowd similar to 2005, rather than the half-empty stadium 12 months later when ticket prices rose dramatically.

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