EHRC - McCormack makes the Acropolis his home

  • Stunning pace by Irish pair in Ford Escort sees them deliver six stage wins on second day of Historic Acropolis Rally
  • Mythical stages in one of the sport’s most historic and prestigious events thrill the crews with a unique challenge and some intriguing battles
  • The EHRC family will gather in Athens to celebrate the season at a special prize giving, where the champions will be crowned alongside the stars of the event

Martin McCormack drove his Ford Escort Mk.II RS1800 into a colossal lead on the second day of the Historic Acropolis Rally, the final round of the 2023 FIA European Rally Championship.

The first day’s action had delivered a battle between McCormack, co-driven by Barney Mitchell, and the four-wheel-drive turbocharged Ford Sierra Cosworth 4x4 of Italian Valter Pierangioli and co-driver Sauro Farnocchia on the stages between the start line in Athens and the seaside town of Itea that has provided the rally’s headquarters.

Six stages awaited on Saturday’s second day, climbing high into the mountains behind the Corinthian Gulf coastline for the crews to experience some of the most rugged terrain in European competition. The stages are familiar to fans of the World Rally Championship, with a long history of drama and excitement on one of the sport’s most prestigious events, and McCormack rose to the challenge in stupefying style.

The Irishman topped the time sheets on every one of the six tests, ending the day with a lead of 4 minutes 55.89 seconds over Pierangioli, who had to overcome a misfire on the first loop of stages. Also losing time at the start of the day were British couple Ernie and Karen Graham, in third place overall in their Ford Escort RS1800, but with sufficient time in hand they made it safely through to the first service and then resumed at a much improved pace as they continued to enjoy the unique challenge of the Greek gravel rally.

Fourth place overall was achieved by the spectacularly committed Czech driver Oldrich Kovarik Jr and co-driver Marek Kapic in their front-wheel-drive Škoda Favorit, one of the youngest cars on the event. As was so often the case in period, the lightweight car belied its modest horsepower to deliver a string of impressive times.

The Renault 5 Turbo of Frenchman Eric Guignard and co-driver Didier Meffre held fifth place, the crew being delighted with their trouble-free run in a car that was designed for far smoother surfaces.

A three-way tussle between the Volvo of Siegfried and Renate Mayr, the Porsche 911 Carrera RS of Paulo Pasutti and co-driver Giovanni-Batista Campeis and the Ford Escort RS1800 of Tom Coughtrie and Alex Lee also provided considerable interest to the large crowds of knowledgeable local fans on the stages. The day ended to the advantage of the German husband-and-wife team.

As with every event in the European Historic Rally Championship, the competition is ultimately divided into four different categories. McCormack not only leads the way overall, but also heads Category 3 for cars built between 1976 and 1981, leading Guignard’s Renault and Mayr’s Volvo.

Pierangioli heads Category 4, the youngest class for cars built between 1982 and 1990, ahead of Graham and Kovarik Jr. Pasutti leads Category 2 for cars built between 1970 and 1975, offering him the chance from third to second in the final points standings, while Category 1 for cars built between 1931 and 1969 is led by the Škoda Octavia Super of Oldrich Kovarik Sr, competing alongside his son in different eras of the Czech marque’s giant-killing rally cars and co-driven by Petr Dufek.

The rally concludes on Sunday, to be followed by the annual prizegiving for which almost the entire EHRC family will be gathering at a special ceremony in Athens.