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World Rally Championship Returns to Greece with Acropolis Race

Acropolis Rally
Andreas Mikkelsen in the 2013 Acropolis Rally. Credit: Race&Motion/Bildagentur Kräling/

The World Rally Championship (WRC) announced Friday that they will return to Greece with the massively popular Acropolis Rally after an eight-year absence from the country.

Ten rounds of the Acropolis Rally will be held from September 9 through 12, 2021.

The WRC is the highest level of global competition for the motorsport, which involves road-legal cars racing on a timed, point-to-point track, compared to the usual circuit racing, which involves a circular course.

The Acropolis Rally, known as the “Rally of the Gods,” was first held in Greece in 1951, and soon gained a reputation as one of the most difficult rally races due to the track’s rocky terrain, clouds of dusty, and sweltering heat.

Fans flocked to the Rally of the Gods, which began below the Acropolis and extended throughout the country, and it soon became a cult hit. Before leaving the WRC circuit, the Acropolis Rally was held 38 times.

The upcoming iteration of the WRC race was originally meant to be held in Chile, but was cancelled due to Coronavirus restrictions.

PM Mitsotakis: Acropolis Rally an “epic annual contest that tested drivers like no other”

Instead, the WRC decided to bring back the fan-favorite race in the Greek capital, with the support of the country’s government.

When the WRC announced the revival of the Rally of the Gods, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stated:

“Seventy years ago the Acropolis was a backdrop to a very special race which became known as the Rally of the Gods, an epic annual contest that tested drivers like no other. After an eight-year absence it is back and, fittingly, at a time of dramatic rejuvenation for my country.”

Greece expects to welcome thousands of motorsport fans to the country for the race in September, a sign that the country is optimistic about its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lefteris Avgenakis, Greek Deputy Minister of Sports, stressed that Greece will be ready for the event in the fall of 2021, stating, “We are delighted to be able to fulfill our promise to the Greek people and the hundreds of thousands of motorsport fans worldwide.

“Greece is ready to welcome fans from all around the world in September and prove that it will be a major player in international events again,” Avgenakis stated.

Rally in Greece is a beloved, historic race

Officials from the WRC also hailed its return to Greece. The managing director of WRC Promoter Jona Siebel said on Friday “The Acropolis holds an illustrious chapter in WRC history and we appreciate the Greek government’s huge commitment in restoring it to world rallying’s top table. Welcome back!”

Jean Todt, the President of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), which governs and organizes the WRC, reminisced about his own experiences racing on the famous track.

“The Acropolis Rally Greece, which has the opportunity to step into the championship, needs no introduction. It’s a legendary event featuring some of the world’s roughest stages.

“I have such special memories of it, having competed there as a co-driver on five occasions between 1970 and 1981, and winning it as team principal of Peugeot in 1985 and 1986.

“It’s a pleasure to see the Acropolis return at the highest level of the discipline thanks to the support of the Greek authorities, along with the strong commitment of the organizers,” Todt said on Friday.

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