In the first special of the Acropolis rally, the 10th round of the WRC world rally championship, which was contested Thursday evening in Athens (Greece), the fastest time was set by the Belgian Thierry Neuville (Hyundai). The championship leader, the Finnish Kalle Rovanpera, is currently in 8th place in the standings.
Neuville finished ahead of three other Hyundai drivers: the Finn Teemu Suninen, who competes in the lower-level WRC2 category; the Spaniard Dani Sordo; and the Estonian Ott Tanak, who finished in fourth place.
This short 1.95-kilometre special race, which was the sole one on this first day, was contested at the Olympic Stadium in Athens. The race’s primary purpose was to serve as a warm-up for the competitors.
Frenchman Sébastien Loeb, a nine-time world champion in the category, is currently in seventh place, one spot ahead of Rovanpera after returning from a trip to Greece on his own accord.
The Finn has already won five rallies this season and is currently in the lead for the championship with 203 points. His closest competitor, Ott Tanak, is in second place with 131 points, and Elfyn Evans (Toyota), who had the 15th-best time Thursday evening, is in third place with 116 points.
On Sunday, the prodigy, who will be 21 years old, has a mathematical chance to become the youngest person to ever win the world championship.
On Thursday, he did, however, temper expectations by saying that “It is highly improbable that this will happen.” Ott has demonstrated a fast tempo in recent competitions, and it appears that trend will continue here as well, he continued.
The rally will get down to business on Friday, with six stages being competed for during the day. It will continue through Sunday, with a total of 16 stages being completed.