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WRC Rally Greece

Torrential rain forces WRC Acropolis Rally shakedown cancellation

Thunderstorms bringing torrential rain have forced the cancellation of Thursday’s shakedown for the Acropolis Rally, but World Rally Championship event organisers have no plans to cancel the entire rally.

Raining atmosphere

Photo by: Tom Howard

Greece has been subjected to flash flooding this week after receiving record-breaking rainfall courtesy of Storm Daniel.

Last Sunday WRC crews were issued a severe weather warning of the approaching storm.  

The storm has hit Lamia, the host city for the Acropolis Rally, which has resulted in several roads being flooded around the service park. Rally event director Pavlos Athanassoulas told Motorsport.com that during the last 48 hours the storm has resulted in the ”biggest amount of water fall in the history of Greece.”

WRC crews have managed to recce the stages despite the conditions, albeit across a truncated and interrupted schedule. The recce of stages 7-10 (Pavliani) was however ended prematurely for some crews on Wednesday evening due to fading light and the rain that has enacted restrictions on traffic in the city.

The disruption to the recce schedule had resulted in officials reducing shakedown to a minimum of one run for Rally1 crews, with shakedown optional for other competitors, before a call was made on Wednesday evening to abandon Thursday's shakedown (Lamia 3.2km) completely.   

Sunday’s rally ending Power Stage ( Stage 15, Grammeni,19.77km) has also been shortened by 10 kilometres due to the effects of the storm. 

“Fortunately things haven’t been too much affected,” Athanassoulas told Motorsport.com.

“The drivers had the opportunity to do recce, somehow, not in the best possible conditions, but on all stages. 

“We had to cut down the Power Stage by 10 kilometres because it was very difficult and dangerous, the first part for the drivers. The clerk of the course has issued a new itinerary and we have  shortened the Power Stage, but apart from this all the stages have been recced and the drivers are ready to start the rally.”

Raining atmosphere

Raining atmosphere

Photo by: Tom Howard

The rally is due to start on Thursday evening with a super special stage held in Athens city centre, some 200 kilometres southeast of Lamia.

Current weather forecasts predict a high chance of fourth rainfall on Thursday and Friday before the more traditional Acropolis Rally hot and dry conditions take over from Saturday.

Rally officials will continue to monitor the weather to ensure the safety of drivers, teams, organisers and spectators, but Athanassoulas is confident the rally will go ahead. 

“Absolutely none,” he said, when asked if there was any suggestion the rally could be cancelled. 

“As we speak Friday stages look safe and as for Saturday we have two days in front of us for those to dry as much as they can and they will provide a different challenge to the drivers than what they expected.      

“We cannot go against the elements of nature,” he added. “Right now, we have witnessed in the last two days the biggest amount of water fall in the history of Greece. 

“This is a very big storm and the biggest we have seen in years, but fortunately as we are right now we had people from the organisation passing through the two first stages on Friday, and they are both in a pretty much okay condition and drivable. 

“Rain is expected to stop in the night so they have 24 hours to dry further meaning that if the situation is not getting any worse, Friday stages are safe.

“We will do whatever is safe for the drivers, spectators and everybody involved in the rally.”

Toyota’s Kalle Rovanpera will start the rally first on the road courtesy of his 25-point lead over team-mate Elfyn Evans in the championship standings.

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