Ott Tänak sixth after Acropolis Rally day two
Ott Tänak is in sixth place in the World Rally Championship Acropolis Rally in Greece, going into day three. Another Estonian driver, Robert Vires, is leading the Junior category.
Tänak headed into the race looking for a third victory in-a-row, having won in Finland and Belgium in the preceding two rounds.
Tänak was in sixth place after Friday's six stages, behind veteran driver and nine-time WRC champion, Frenchman Sebastien Loeb (M-Sport Ford), his compatriot and team-mate Pierre-Louis Loubet, Finn Esapekka Lappi (Toyota), and two of Tänak's Hyundai teammates, Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo.
Loeb dominated the day's events, placing first in all stages (though he had to share the third stage of the day's win with Lappi)
Tänak had fallen to seventh after the penultimate stage of the day, but a third place in Friday's final and longest stage, the 22.97 km Bauxites stage, bumped him up one position at day's end.
Saturday's six stages get underway from just after 8.30 a.m., Estonian time.
Meanwhile in the Junior WRC category, which is racing its final stage of the season, Robert Vires (Ford) is firmly in the lead.
Vires was just one point behind the joint leaders of the overall 2022 table, going into the race, and so is in with a chance of taking the title.
Tänak placed first in the preliminary 3.62-km Lygaria test on the Thursday morning, taking advantage of starting second behind table leader Kalle Rovanperä, who in effect cleaned the road for the Estonian.
In the first stage proper on Thursday evening, Thierry Neuville (Belgium), Tänak's teammate in the Hyundai i20, put in the fastest time, in front of a large crowd of spectators in Athens, and was followed a tenth of a second later by Finn Teemu Suninen, also racing for Hyundai, though in the WRC2 category. Dani Sordo (Spain) was the third Hyundai man, while Tänak followed close behind.
Table leader Kalle Rovanperä (Finland, Toyota) came in eighth
Before the race
Tänak said pre-race that: "The Acropolis rally is a great event; the routes are smoother than they might seem, and are nice to drive on.
The event made a return to the calendar after a long absence, last season, when the Estonian finished second.
"Last year the expected weather did not arrive; it was a bit wet and humid, and so it remains to be seen what the conditions will be this year," Tänak went on.
"Following the victory in Ypres, we are feeling positive, and since we reached the podium in Greece last year, we have some hope for the same from this weekend."
Tänak is not the only Estonian in action; Robert Virves is competing in the Junior WRC class for Ford.
Placed third overall in the table, and even then only by a point, the championship is wide open in the last race of its (the full WRC calendar has three more events to go) season.
The Acropolis Rally is known for its heavy-going rocky road conditions, dust, winding routes and often hot temperatures, last year excepted.
Tänak was second last year behind current WRC table leader, Finn Kalle Rovanperä, who races for Toyota.
Since Tänak will start second on the Friday's first stage proper, behind the Finn, this actually works in his favor as the Toyota driver will have acted as a "track cleaner" for him.
As per tradition, the race starts with a Thursday evening test run (see itinerary below).
Pirelli is providing harder-compound Scorpion KX WRC tires for the event's competitors, which would be particularly useful in hotter and drier conditions.
Acropolis Rally itinerary (with distance in kilometers, and start time (Estonian time, 24-hour clock, plus stage winner. Completed stages in italics):
Lygaria test 3.62 km 8.01 TÄNAK
SS1 EKO SSS Olympic Stadium 1.95 km 20.08 NEUVILLE
SS2 Loutraki 1 17.95 km 7.53 LOEB
SS3 Harvati 14.42 km 8.46 LOEB
SS4 Loutraki 2 17.95 km 11.29 LOEB/LAPPI
SS5 Dafni 13.99 km 13.12 LOEB
SS6 Livadia 21.03 km 15.15 LOEB
SS7 Bauxites 22.97 km 17.53 LOEB
SS8 Pyrgos 1 33.20 km 8.33
SS9 Perivoli 1 17.42 km 9.34
SS10 Tarzan 1 23.37 km 11.08
SS11 Pyrgos 2 33.20 km 14.33
SS12 Perivoli 2 17.42 km 15.34
SS13 Tarzan 2 23.37 km 17.08
SS14 Eleftherochori 1 16.90 km 9.08
SS15 Elatia - Rengini 11.26 km 10.11
SS16 Eleftherochori 2 (PK) 16.90 km 13.18
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Editor: Andrew Whyte