Next week’s Acropolis Rally of Greece will see Ford Fiesta S2000 drivers Ott Tänak and Martin Prokop go head-to-head as they fight to remain at the top of the S-WRC overall standings.
After a dramatic opening three rounds in the Super 2000 World Rally Championship which has seen the Ford Fiesta S2000 take victory at each event, Tänak and Prokop are now tied at the top of the championship standings with 40 points each. Fellow Fiesta S2000 drivers Bernardo Sousa holds fifth, Nasser Al-Attiyah lies in seventh and Frigyes Turán rounds off the top ten.
Prokop’s season got off to a flying start after he took an early championship lead with his victory in Mexico. Another podium spot shortly followed when the Czech driver finished third overall in Sardinia. Prokop, a former J-WRC champion, will be looking to use his past experience from competing in Greece to challenge for his third podium of the season.
Up-and-coming rally star Ott Tänak made an impressive debut in Mexico where he finished third in S-WRC and secured a credible 15 championship points. This was followed by a second podium in Sardinia when he took his maiden victory and was promoted to joint first place in the overall standings alongside Prokop. Tänak, a former Pirelli Star Driver, has demonstrated a remarkable show of pace so far this year and despite competing in Greece for the first time next week, he is looking to secure another podium finish.
Reigning Portuguese Rally Champion Bernardo Sousa claimed his maiden S-WRC victory in Jordan earlier this year but the young driver was forced to retire at last month’s Rally Italia Sardegna on the closing day. Sousa currently holds fifth in the S-WRC and is aiming for his second podium of the year in order to move further up the standings.
After two disappointing events in Mexico and Jordan, six-time MERC champion Nasser Al-Attiyah showed a return to form as he finished fourth at Rally Italia Sardegna last month. Al-Attiyah is the most experienced Fiesta S2000 driver to compete in Greece next week, having already contested the event in 2007, 2008 and 2009. The Qatari driver is hoping for a clear run at the fourth round of the S-WRC and will be looking to take advantage of his previous knowledge of the rocky Greek roads to help him challenge for victory.
Frigyes Turán will be the second Ford Fiesta S2000 driver to make his debut in Greece next week. The Hungarian driver first raised eyebrows in the rally world after his impressive pace at last year’s Rally Bulgaria saw him finish eighth overall. However, his debut in the S-WRC did not go to plan when he had to retire on the penultimate stage in Jordan due to mechanical problems. Turán was dealt another dose of bad luck in Sardinia when his Fiesta S2000 suffered from exhaust problems on the opening day. In Greece, the driver will be aiming for a clear run and to post some solid championship points.
Ott Tänak said:
“I’ve been busy preparing for Greece mentally over the past week, we’ve not done any events in the Fiesta S2000 since Sardinia and we won’t be behind the wheel until Shakedown next Thursday. For sure, it’s not going to easy – it’ll be my first time in Greece but then again, it was my first time in Sardinia and I won there so maybe it will good for me next week too. I don’t think I’ve done an event like this before – I’ve heard that the stages will be very different from Sardinia and Mexico but we will try to have a good recce and see how it goes. We just want to try our best and to keep a good feeling in the car throughout.”
Martin Prokop said:
“Next week is not going to be easy, Greece is a very difficult event but I’m really looking forward to the challenge. The championship has now got very exciting and even though there’s still five events to go, I want to keep the pressure on as much as I can through this rally. I’ve been to Greece a couple of times before so that is a plus but so have Nasser and Bernardo so we will all have an advantage of knowing the roads. I’m just going to see how the first stages go and then adjust my pace to the circumstances – the roads are very rough and I am sure this year will be no different. I’d really like to challenge for a win but it’s a rally where anything can happen so I really couldn’t predict what will happen.”
Bernardo Sousa said:
“My year started really well with our first place in Jordan and I’d love to finish on the podium again next week. I’ve finished 16th in Greece twice before so it’s be good to beat that personal best at the same time but the main thing is to try and keep the concentration going throughout. It’s such a hot rally and I think that is one of the hardest things about Greece, you’re constantly sweating and the temperature inside the car can sometimes get too much! Saturday is going to be a really long day this year with the added night stage but it’s going to be a great challenge and I can’t wait to get out there.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah said:
“I think this will be my fourth time in Greece and it’s definitely one of my favourite events. I’ve got a test on Monday so that’ll be a good confidence boost as I really want to go flat out next week and finish on top of the podium. I was pretty disappointed with the first couple of S-WRC rounds in Mexico and Jordan as I was unlucky on both occasions but it was good to finish with some points in Sardinia. For the past week I’ve been in Italy shooting as I’m practicing for the next Olympic Games [In the 2004 Olympic Games, Nasser finished fourth in clay pigeon shooting].”
Frigyes Turán said:
“This will be our first time in Greece so we really don’t know what to expect. We have been trying to prepare physically and emotionally as we’ve been told how hot it can get in the car and this will pose a particular challenge for us. We’ve done a lot of training to get our mental and physical fitness up to its best in order so I hope that will have helped us. Since the previous rally in Sardinia, I’ve tried to be with my family as much as I could but in Greece our primary goal is to get championship points and to achieve a better ranking. We hope for a trouble-free event this time.”
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