Acropolis Rally

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Acropolis Rally
Ράλλυ Ακρόπολις
Rally Acropolis 2011-SS3.jpg
Statusactive
Genremotorsporting event
Date(s)May - June, September
Frequencyannual
Location(s)Athens, Lamia, Loutraki
CountryGreece Greece
Inaugurated1951 (1951)
FounderELPA
AreaAttica, Fthiotis, Phokis, Corinthia
Websitewww.acropolisrally.gr

The Acropolis Rally of Greece (Greek: Ράλλυ Ακρόπολις) is a rally competition that is part of the World Rally Championship (WRC). The rally is held on very dusty, rough, rocky and fast mountain roads in mainland Greece, usually during the Greek hot summer period. The rally is best known for being extremely tough on the competing cars and drivers.

History[edit]

The Acropolis Rally has been held since 1951 by the Greek Motorsports Organization Automobile and Touring Club of Greece (ELPA), making it one of the longest-standing competitions in world rallying. Many world renown drivers have won this event including Walter Röhrl, Björn Waldegård, Ari Vatanen, Stig Blomqvist, Juha Kankkunen, Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae, among others.

Due to the nature of the race, with a mix of rough, twisty, fast mountain stages and coupled with blistering heat and choking dust, the Acropolis Rally is one of the toughest on the European and World Rally circuits. The cars used in the race must be built with extra sturdiness in order to cope with the fast but rock-strewn stages. Drivers and co-drivers also have to contend with the pounding terrain and high summer temperatures which often reached 50 °C within the cockpit. Many drivers rate the event as a test of skill, patience, bravery and endurance in the past, going as far as comparing the Acropolis with the infamous Safari Rally.

Super Special Stages (SSS)[edit]

The Rally is also known for having used great Super Special Stages over the years.

This trend started with the Marlboro Super Stage held in the city of Anavissos, south of Athens, in the early 90's. After the event base moved to Itea and Lamia in the early 2000's, a Super Special Stage was used in the outskirts of Lilea Parnassos. In 2005 a new stage was introduced; a superspecial stage held within the Athens Olympic Stadium. The Super Special Stage (SSS) was the highlight of the rally as well as the 2005 WRC schedule and in the same year, the Acropolis Rally was awarded the “Rally of the Year” title. It was loved by drivers and fans alike, as the packed stadium provided an "arena" feeling to the stage.

In 2006 there were 2 superspecials, again in the same stadium. The rally headquarters and the service park also moved from Lamia to the Athens Olympic Sports Complex. In the 2007 event, the superspecial (along with the rally headquarters and the service park) moved to the Markopoulo Olympic Equestrian Centre. In 2008 the super special stage was held twice at the Tatoi military airport. In 2018, a superspecial was based again in the Markopoulo Olympic Equestrian Centre. This was also the last time the event ran a Super Special Stage.

Historic locations[edit]

The Acropolis Rally started out as a marathon/endurance type event back in the early 50's. When the rally became part of the World Rally Championship after 1973, the crews had to face up to 800 competitive kilometers, in some of the most gruelling stages and conditions imaginable. This trip involved locations all over Greece up to the late 80's, such as the more known Kalambaka and Meteora, stages near Mount Olympus, Attica, Central Greece, and even down south in the Peloponnese. The traditional start always took place under the legendary Acropolis in Athens, and the finish ceremony was carried out in the Panathenaic stadium.

Recent years[edit]

With rallies ever so shrinking due to the new demands of the World Rally Championship and transitioning to "sprint" type events, the Acropolis Rally followed suit, basing the whole rally in certain areas and using stages nearby. The classic rally headquarters in the 90's and early 2000's were the cities of Lamia and Itea. In 2005, the rally headquarters and the service park moved from Lamia to the Athens Olympic Sports Complex and then in the 2007 event, the rally headquarters and the service park moved to the Markopoulo Olympic Equestrian Centre. In 2008, the headquarters where situated at the Tatoi military airport, and that was the last time since that the rally was based in Attica, and that special stages where used in that area. In 2009 the rally headquarters and the service park were moved to the Greek city of Loutraki near the Corinth Canal with stages in Argolis and Corinthia used for the rally. For the 2016 ERC Season, the rally headquarters were moved back to the classic and much loved mountain stages near Lamia.

Classic stages[edit]

The best stages in Greece are undoubtedly in the Phthiotis and Phokis regions, mainly around the Parnassus and Giona mountains. Recently used stages like Bauxites/Karoutes, Pavliani, Kaloskopi, Rengini, Eleftherohori and Moschokarya are favorites amongst drivers and fans alike, due to their fast and flowing nature, allowing the cars to reach their full potential, in a rally where it is otherwise risky to push hard, due to the hard surface which can damage the cars heavily. The same goes for other famous rally stages in Greece , like the Kineta and Aghi Theodori stages around the Gerania mountains in Corinthia, Prodromos, Livadeia and Thiva in Boeotia, Parnonas in mainland Peloponnese. Other honorable mentions include the fast and beautiful Parnitha stage, the car breaker Ymmitos, plus the Assopia and Aghia Sotira stages in Attica, as well as the spectacular Meteora stage which was last used in the late 80's in the longer version of the rally. Several stages feature significant archeological landmarks like the "Klenia-Mycenae" stage which includes the Archeological site of Mycenae. It's worth mentioning, that many favourite classic special stages (f.e. Grammeni Oxia, Gardiki, Hani Zagana, Evangelistria, Prodromos, Aliki, Loukissia) were asphalt paved at some point in the past, so it is no longer possible for them to be used in the Acropolis Rally, since it is a mainly gravel-based event.

The legend of the "Tarzan" test in Evrytania[edit]

This special stage has a history like no other test in the Acropolis Rally. Originally called by the names of Fourna and Rentina, this devastatingly rough 30,3km test has been described to be the spirit and showcase of the Acropolis Rally's reputation. The name "Tarzan" originates from Giorgos Burgos, who was from Fourna in Evritania, lived in Athens and was a police officer. He suffered from Tuberculosis and was given a few months to live. He then moved to Fourna, and reached the age of 92. The Acropolis rally passed through the hut of Giorgos, who's nickname was "Tarzan", from the 22nd edition of the rally in 1975. At that time the special route was called "Fourna". The stage first appeared under the new name "Tarzan" in the 26th Acropolis Rally in 1979, in honor of Giorgos Bourgos, who was by then a well known and liked figure amongst the drivers and the organisers of the event. The presence of the full stage in the rally was continuous until the 42nd running of the event in 1995. For its last four years the route was renamed "Rentina-Tarzan", after using the second half of the classic 30,3km (finishing in Tsoukka).

In the Acropolis Rally of 2003, when the event reached its 50th anniversary, a shortened 20.65km version of the stage, called "New Tarzan", was held twice, paying tribute to the route's legacy in the event.

Although Tarzan was a "car breaker", all the WRC drivers who had run the stage, loved it. A typical example is that of Didier Auriol, who in June 1991, dismantled a wheelrim and his suspension there, losing the lead and the overall victory in the race. Nevertheless, he later stated that "Tarzan" was his favorite Acropolis Rally special stage.

Return to the WRC in 2021[edit]

In August of 2020, rumours started to emerge about the possible return of the rally to the World Rally Championship. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis assured that the government was ready to support the organizers financially. In late December of the same year, the Hellenic Ministry of Sport agreed with the Organizing Committee for Motorsport to revive the Acropolis Rally. The search for suitable locations is currently underway.

In March 2021, it was officially announced that the Rally of God's would return for the 2021 World Rally Championship, taking place in September of the same year, with Lamia as the host city.

Winners[edit]

Harri Rovanperä with a Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05 at the 2005 event.
Petter Solberg with a Subaru Impreza WRC05 at the 2005 event
Loeb with Citroën DS3 WRC at the 2011 event
Nasser Al-Attiyah driving a Subaru Impreza WRX STI at the 2006 event.
Year Driver
Co-driver
Car Championship
1951 Greece Petros Peratikos Fiat
1952 Greece Johnny Pesmatzoglou Chevrolet (as ELPA Rally)
1953 Greece Nikos Papamichail Jaguar
1954 Greece Pétros Papadópoulos Opel
1955 Greece Johnny Pesmatzoglou Opel
1956 Germany Walter Shock Mercedes-Benz
1957 France Jean-Pierre Estager Ferrari
1958 Italy Luigi Villoresi Lancia
1959 Germany Wolfgang Levy Auto Union
1960 Germany Walter Shock
Germany Rolf Moll
Mercedes-Benz 220 SE ERC
1961 Sweden Erik Carlsson
Sweden Walter Karlsson
Saab 96 ERC
1962 Germany Eugen Böhringer
Germany Peter Lang
Mercedes-Benz 220 SE ERC
1963 Germany Eugen Böhringer
Germany Rolf Knoll
Mercedes-Benz 300 SE ERC
1964 Sweden Tom Trana
Sweden Gunnar Thermanius
Volvo PV 544 ERC
1965 Sweden Carl-Magnus Skogh
Sweden Lennart Berggren
Volvo Amazon 122S ERC
1966 Sweden Bengt Söderström
Sweden Gunnar Palm
Ford Cortina Lotus ERC
1967 United Kingdom Paddy Hopkirk
United Kingdom Ron Crellin
Mini Cooper S ERC
1968 United Kingdom Roger Clark
United Kingdom Jim Porter
Ford Escort Twin Cam ERC
1969 Finland Pauli Toivonen
Finland Martti Kolari
Porsche 911 S
1970 France Jean-Luc Thérier
France Marcel Callewaert
Alpine-Renault A110 1600 IMC
1971 Sweden Ove Andersson
Sweden Arne Hertz
Alpine-Renault A110 1600 IMC
1972 Sweden Håkan Lindberg
Italy Helmut Eisendle
Fiat 124 Sport Spider IMC
1973 France Jean-Luc Thérier
Belgium Christian Delferrier
Alpine-Renault A110 1800 WRC
1974 Event cancelled due to the oil crisis.
1975 Germany Walter Röhrl
Germany Jochen Berger
Opel Ascona 1.9 SR WRC
1976 Sweden Harry Källström
Sweden Claes-Göran Andersson
Datsun Violet 160J WRC
1977 Sweden Björn Waldegård
Sweden Hans Thorszelius
Ford Escort RS 1800 WRC
1978 Germany Walter Röhrl
Germany Christian Geistdörfer
Fiat 131 Abarth WRC
1979 Sweden Björn Waldegård
Sweden Hans Thorszelius
Ford Escort RS 1800 WRC
1980 Finland Ari Vatanen
United Kingdom David Richards
Ford Escort RS 1800 WRC
1981 Finland Ari Vatanen
United Kingdom David Richards
Ford Escort RS 1800 WRC
1982 France Michèle Mouton
Italy Fabrizia Pons
Audi Quattro WRC
1983 Germany Walter Röhrl
Germany Christian Geistdörfer
Lancia 037 Rally WRC
1984 Sweden Stig Blomqvist
Sweden Björn Cederberg
Audi Quattro A2 WRC
1985 Finland Timo Salonen
Finland Seppo Harjanne
Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 E2 WRC
1986 Finland Juha Kankkunen
Finland Juha Piironen
Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 E2 WRC
1987 Finland Markku Alén
Finland Ilkka Kivimäki
Lancia Delta HF 4WD WRC
1988 Italy Miki Biasion
Italy Tiziano Siviero
Lancia Delta HF Integrale WRC
1989 Italy Miki Biasion
Italy Tiziano Siviero
Lancia Delta HF Integrale WRC
1990 Spain Carlos Sainz
Spain Luis Moya
Toyota Celica GT-Four WRC
1991 Finland Juha Kankkunen
Finland Juha Piironen
Lancia Delta HF Integrale 16v WRC
1992 France Didier Auriol
France Bernard Occelli
Lancia Delta HF Integrale WRC
1993 Italy Miki Biasion
Italy Tiziano Siviero
Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC
1994 Spain Carlos Sainz
Spain Luis Moya
Subaru Impreza 555 WRC
1995 Greece Aris Vovos
Greece Kostas Stefanis
Lancia Delta HF Integrale FIA 2-Litre Cup
1996 Scotland Colin McRae
Scotland Derek Ringer
Subaru Impreza 555 WRC
1997 Spain Carlos Sainz
Spain Luis Moya
Ford Escort WRC WRC
1998 Scotland Colin McRae
Wales Nicky Grist
Subaru Impreza S4 WRC '98 WRC
1999 England Richard Burns
Scotland Robert Reid
Subaru Impreza S5 WRC '99 WRC
2000 Scotland Colin McRae
Wales Nicky Grist
Ford Focus RS WRC 00 WRC
2001 Scotland Colin McRae
Wales Nicky Grist
Ford Focus RS WRC 01 WRC
2002 Scotland Colin McRae
Wales Nicky Grist
Ford Focus RS WRC 01 WRC
2003 Estonia Markko Märtin
United Kingdom Michael Park
Ford Focus RS WRC 03 WRC
2004 Norway Petter Solberg
Wales Phil Mills
Subaru Impreza S10 WRC '04 WRC
2005 France Sébastien Loeb
Monaco Daniel Elena
Citroën Xsara WRC WRC
2006 Finland Marcus Grönholm
Finland Timo Rautiainen
Ford Focus RS WRC 06 WRC
2007 Finland Marcus Grönholm
Finland Timo Rautiainen
Ford Focus RS WRC 06 WRC
2008 France Sébastien Loeb
Monaco Daniel Elena
Citroën C4 WRC WRC
2009 Finland Mikko Hirvonen
Finland Jarmo Lehtinen
Ford Focus RS WRC 09 WRC
2010 Not held
2011 France Sébastien Ogier
France Julien Ingrassia
Citroën DS3 WRC[1] WRC
2012 France Sébastien Loeb
Monaco Daniel Elena
Citroën DS3 WRC WRC
2013 Finland Jari-Matti Latvala
Finland Miikka Anttila
Volkswagen Polo R WRC WRC
2014 Republic of Ireland Craig Breen
United Kingdom Scott Martin
Peugeot 208 T16 R5 ERC
2015 Poland Kajetan Kajetanowicz
Poland Jarosław Baran
Ford Fiesta R5 ERC
2016 Latvia Ralfs Sirmacis
Latvia Arturs Šimins
Škoda Fabia R5 ERC
2017 Poland Kajetan Kajetanowicz
Poland Jarosław Baran
Ford Fiesta R5 ERC
2018 Portugal Bruno Magalhães
Portugal Hugo Magalhães
Škoda Fabia R5 ERC
2019 Not held
2020 Not held

Number of victories per driver (WRC only)[edit]

Since 1973, the first WRC season.

# Wins Driver Years won
5 United Kingdom Colin McRae 1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002
3 Germany Walter Röhrl 1975, 1978, 1983
Italy Miki Biasion 1988, 1989, 1993
Spain Carlos Sainz 1990, 1994, 1997
France Sébastien Loeb 2005, 2008, 2012
2 Sweden Björn Waldegård 1977, 1979
Finland Ari Vatanen 1980, 1981
Finland Juha Kankkunen 1986, 1991
Finland Marcus Grönholm 2006, 2007
1 France Jean-Luc Thérier 1973
Sweden Harry Källström 1976
France Michèle Mouton 1982
Sweden Stig Blomqvist 1984
Finland Timo Salonen 1985
Finland Markku Alén 1987
France Didier Auriol 1992
United Kingdom Richard Burns 1999
Estonia Markko Märtin 2003
Norway Petter Solberg 2004
Finland Mikko Hirvonen 2009
France Sébastien Ogier 2011
Finland Jari-Matti Latvala 2013

References[edit]

External links[edit]