The EKO Acropolis Rally 2022, a unique motor racing event, kicked off on Thursday from a special stage created at the Olympic Stadium in Athens.
More than sixty thousand motorsport enthusiasts filled the stadium to watch the 1.95 kilometer side-by-side tarmac test. The return of the Olympic Stadium super special for the first time since 2006 proved to be a hit with the drivers.
Belgian Thierry Neuville won the special stage seeing off Toyota’s Elfyn Evans in their head-to-head contest to post a time 0.1 second faster than WRC2 star Teemu Suninen, who set the early benchmark.
“It’s like it should always be—such great crowds and atmosphere,” said Neuville. “Congratulations to the organizers for putting this in place for us and for all the spectators who came today.”
“It shows that it’s possible to bring huge crowds to the WRC and we should look to do more on other events as well,” Neuville said.
The rally proper begins on Friday with six competitive gravel stages awaiting the crews.
A total of seventy entries with crews from thirty-one countries will participate in the Acropolis Rally 2022. There are 188.46 miles of Acropolis gravel for the drivers to contend with this year.
Dubbed as the “Rally of Gods,” Acropolis Rally is held on very dusty, rough, and rocky mountain roads of mainland Greece at high speeds and is best known for being extremely tough on competing cars and drivers.
First held in 1951 and part of the World Rally Championship (WRC), the Acropolis Rally is one of the toughest car races and one of the longest-standing international rallying events.
Acropolis Rally showcases the beauty of Greece
“The Acropolis Rally is the best investment for the promotion of Greek tourism internationally,” said Dimitris Fragakis, secretary general of the GNTO, which is a grand sponsor of the historic rally that goes by the name “EKO Rally Acropolis 2022” after its main sponsor of the year.
“The visibility and impact of the ‘Rally of the Gods’ contributes significantly to the promotion of Greece,” said Fragakis, adding that the race will be broadcast worldwide. “The Acropolis Rally is the best investment for the promotion of Greek tourism internationally.”
More than a million viewers in 150 countries across the globe will have the chance to see images of Greece, as many of the routes showcase lesser-known areas, he said.