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WRC – Rovanperä forward after vicious Saturday in Greece

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Finnish driver claims shock lead as Ogier and Neuville sidelined by gruelling situations.

Kalle Rovanperä is on target for a outstanding victory at EKO Acropolis Rally Greece after Saturday’s brutal penultimate leg pressured fellow challengers Thierry Neuville and Sébastien Ogier into retirement.

A livid battle within the morning grew to become a matter of survival this afternoon as warmth and punishing rock-strewn roads took a heavy toll on this tenth fixture of the FIA World Rally Championship season.

Neuville was 10.9sec clear when he thumped a gap and shattered his Hyundai i20 N’s front-right suspension on the primary stage of the afternoon loop. He had trailed championship chief Rovanperä by 36 factors coming into this fixture, spherical 10 of 13.

His demise left Ogier in management however the Frenchman, who entered the ultimate Eleftherohori stage 12.4sec forward of team-mate Rovanperä, swiped a rock which destroyed the rear-left suspension on his Toyota GR Yaris. He retired on the ultimate street part whereas Rovanperä romped to the highest.

The 22-year-old will begin the ultimate leg with a lead of greater than two minutes over Hyundai Motorsport Dani’s Sordo. Victory on Sunday would transfer him one other step nearer to clinching back-to-back world titles.

“There was lots taking place on the entrance right this moment,” stated a barely shocked Rovanperä. “It was a pleasant battle after all, however not the simplest to push with Seb as a result of we had the championship to consider. I feel we had a great day, we had been quick however we additionally saved the automobile in a single piece,” he added.

There was drama all through the sphere as Rovanperä’s closest championship challenger Elfyn Evans limped to the end of SS9 in EV mode when his Toyota started overheating. Having plummeted to fifth, the Welshman hauled himself again up the order solely to be demoted to 3rd by Sordo within the ultimate take a look at.

Sordo had ended Friday’s opening leg down in seventh however crept up the order as these round him struck hassle, and 4.1sec cut up the podium-sitting pair at shut of play.

Regardless of having 3min 40sec in time penalties for being late out of Friday’s tyre becoming zone, M-Sport Ford Puma driver Tänak loved a clear run compared to his rivals and climbed from ninth to fourth, passing fifth and sixth-placed Esapekka Lappi and Takamoto Katsuta within the course of.

A transmission failure left Lappi’s Hyundai with solely rear-wheel drive whereas a fraught run by means of Karoutes 2 noticed Katsuta cease twice to carry out wheel adjustments on his GR Yaris.

WRC2 runners comprised the rest of the leaderboard, and it was Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen who led the help class after a shocking comeback drive in a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2. Gus Greensmith was eighth total whereas Yohan Rossel and Grégoire Munster accomplished the highest 10.

Sunday’s finale totals 42.37km north-west of Lamia and begins with the traditional Tarzan take a look at. Double runs of Grammeni spherical out the occasion, the latter of which kinds the Wolf Energy Stage the place bonus factors can be found.

Main positions after Saturday:
1. Ok Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris 2h 29m 40.5s
2. D Sordo / C Carrera ESP Hyundai i20 N +2m 4.4s
3. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +2m 9.4s
4. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Ford Puma +4m 49.7s
5. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Hyundai i20 N +6m 16.6s
6. T Katsuta / A Johnston JPN Toyota GR Yaris +7m 2.2s

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