A total of 70 entries, with crews from 31 countries, constitute the starting list of the EKO Acropolis Rally which continues what it started last year: expand its great presence on the international stage, having as its basis, unique and identified with Greece images.
The now fully-fledged ΕΚΟ Acropolis Rally, will begin in less than a month and in front of tens of thousands of spectators, with the EKO Super Special Stage at Athens Olympic Stadium, marking one of the greatest moments of the recent FIA World Rally Championship era.
WRC teams are expected in full force, with a season record of 13 hybrid Rally1 cars fighting on the Greek mountains. Manufacturers’ leader Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, will start with four Toyota GR Yaris and with points leaders and the 2021 EKO Acropolis Rally winners Kalle Rovanepera-Jonne Halttunen in the lead role, flanked by Elfyn Evans-Scott Martin, Esapekka Lappi-Janne Ferm and Takamoto Katsuta-Aaron Johnston.
Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT is coming to Greece with three i20 N. The usual suspects, Ott Tanak-Martin Jarveoja and Thierry Neuville-Martin Wydaeghe, will lead the Korean team's effort. Hyundai's third Rally1 will be driven by Dani Sordo-Candido Carrera, who returns to action after Rally Sardinia.
However, the largest participation in numbers is expected by the multi-winner of the event, M-Sport Ford WRT, that is preparing six Puma Rally1 - especially for the EKO Rally Acropolis! Among them, the 9-time World Champion, Sebastien Loeb, will be the center of attention. The French driver, with Isabelle Galmiche by his side, in his fourth and probably last appearance for this season, returns to Greek soil for the first time in ten whole years! The Frenchman who is considered by many as the greatest driver of all time, won in his last Acropolis Rally, back in 2012, then in a Citroen DS3 WRC.
Alongside the WRC record-man, we'll see Craig Breen-Paul Nagle who leads this year's M-Sport Ford efforts, as well as the talented Gus Greensmith-Jonas Andersson, Andrien Formaux-Alexandre Coria and Pierre Louis Loubet-Vincent Landais. As for the... domestic interest, the British team will line up another Puma Rally1, with Iordanis Serderidis behind the wheel. The Greek driver will make his second outing with this car after Rally Safari-Kenya, again with Frederic Miclotte as the co-driver.
The hybrid cars may steal the show, but a total of 35 WRC2 entries, with cars from four different Manufacturers, are also expected to provide a unique spectacle. Among them, the main contenders for this year’s title, Andreas Mikkelsen-Torstein Eriksen (Skoda Fabia evo Rally2), Emil Lindholm-Reeta Hamalainen with the same car, but also last year's Champions in WRC3, Yohan Rossel-Valentin Sarreaud (Citroen C3 Rally2). Part of the battle for victory we will also be the experienced Teemu Sunninen-Mikko Markkula (Hyundai i20 N Rally2), Marco Bulacia-Diego Vallejo (Skoda Fabia evo Rally2) and Nicolay Gryazin-Konstantin Alexandrov (Skoda Fabia evo Rally2).
Eleven Greek crews with Rally2 specification cars will line up against them, fighting their separate battle for the honors of the best. Among them, the 2019 Greek Champion and first in the informal Greek classification of EKO Acropolis Rally 2021, Giorgos Kehagias with Dimitris Sainis (Skoda Fabia evo Rally2), as well as the winners in the PWRC category at the 2009 Acropolis Rally, Lambros Athanasoulas-Nikos Zachaios, with a Hyundai i20 N Rally2. Manos Stefanis and his father Kostas, who is one of the leading co-drivers of all time in Greece, will compete with the same car. Last year's Champion of Greece Alexandros Tsouloftas, will also be part of the battle, competing this year with Ross Whittock on his right hand side, in a Volkswagen Polo GTI.
Meanwhile, the EKO Acropolis Rally will be the final round of the FIA Junior World Rally Championship and will crown the new champion among the future stars of rallying, who compete in four-wheel drive Ford Fiesta Rally3 cars. So far, the contenders for the title are Sami Pajari-Enni Malkonen, Jon Armstrong-Brian Hoy, Robert Virves-Julia Thulin and Lauri Joona-Mikael Korhonen, with only 5 points separating the first from the fourth in the standings!
All pieces of the EKO Acropolis Rally puzzle are in place and we are counting down for the 69th edition of a rally that, beyond the given quality of its participants, will run on 16 special stages in the Peloponnese and Central Greece, as a pillar to showcase Greece’s unique scenery to every corner of the earth!