Round three of the 2016 FIA European Rally Championship takes crews to the gravel stages of the Acropolis Rally and it stands to be an important round for a number of crews. The infamous event is renowned for being a car breaker and could throw up a surprise or two.
Alexey Lukyanuk comes into the event having been forced to miss round two on the Circuit of Ireland after heavily damaging his Ford Fiesta R5 in a pre-event test. The Russian is back on his favourite surface, gravel, and will be hoping to rekindle some confidence. Championship leader Kajetan Kajetanowicz is in good form after taking second on the last two rounds but he is hungry for his first win of the season, fitting so that his last victory in the ERC was here last year in October.
“The thing I like the least about rallying is the waiting for the next outing. Sometimes I think that this is the toughest part of this sport! The good thing is that this year’s European Rally Championship calendar is very busy and the rounds virtually follow each other.” said the ERC Champion,
“There is little time for preparation but for us it is not difficult to work hard, day by day. It is possible when every member of LOTOS Rally Team gets passionately involved in doing what we all love to do. I am aware that before such a demanding rally we should muster up a solid dose of commitment, which is necessary to face this challenge.
“We need it as this year’s Acropolis Rally moves over 100 kilometres north and we will compete on route which is completely new to us, as we return to driving on gravel after a break of more than 200 days.”
Robert Consani comes to Greece needing a change of fortunes taking seventh in the Canaries and retired in Northern Ireland. The Frenchman needs a result to keep in the fight for the championship. Jaromír Tarabus, Dávid Botka and Raul Jeets head back to Greece after top six finishes there in 2015. ERC Junior regular Ralfs Sirmacis makes his debut in the main category this weekend in a Skoda R5 while local driver Lambros Athanassoulas will be hoping to repeat his podium finish here last year in a similar machine.
David Botka will be one to watch, getting more used to his new Citroen DS3 R5 and a win in ERC 2 here last year means he knows how to be competitive on the Greek stages. Jaromir Tarabus showed good form in Northern Ireland before a final stage off put him out, he’ll take good confidence coming into the Acropolis.
Wojciech Chuchała will be looking for his third win in a row in ERC 2 and will have to contest with a full complement of class regulars including Tibor Érdi Jr who was on course to win the class here in 2014 but retired on his way to the finish. Łukasz Pieniążek will attempt to back up his ERC Junior win at the last round with victory in ERC 3 on the Acropolis, he will use the event as practice for the Azores rally which is the next event on the calender. He will have to contend with the likes of Zoltán Bessenyey, Turkish star Murat Bostanci and Romania’s Alexandru Filip.
In 2016 the event will move back to Lamia and will be made up of 12 stages which will all be contested on gravel lasting a combined 231.52 kilometres. The event begins with the qualifying stage on Friday May 6th with the rally itself being contested over Saturday and Sunday starting with the 25.7-kilometre SEAJETS New Gravia stage.