Martin McCormack and co-driver Barney Mitchell complete a dominant victory on the Historic Rally Acropolis in their Ford Escort Mk2 RS1800
Valter Pierangioli (Ford Sierra Cosworth 4x4) and Ernie Graham (Ford Escort Mk2 RS1800) complete the podium
Category champions gather in Athens for a gala awards night and celebration to close the 2023 EHRC season
Martin McCormack has won the 2023 Historic Acropolis Rally, concluding a dominant performance for the Irishman and co-driver Barney Mitchell on the final round of the 2023 FIA European Historic Rally Championship. McCormack led the field back from the coastal town of Itea, host to the event over the previous two days, back to the finish line in Elefsina, taking in four special stages along the route.
After winning six out of the six gravel stages on Saturday, McCormack’s lead was just shy of five minutes when the field departed Itea for the last time. He would win three of the four remaining gravel stages, surrendering just one to Italian driver Valter Pierangioli and his co-driver Sauro Farnocchia in their turbocharged four-wheel-drive Ford Sierra Cosworth 4x4.
Thus McCormack claimed his second consecutive outright victory in the EHRC, following his win on asphalt at the Sanremo Storico last month. “The Acropolis is a rally that Barney and I have watched since we were little kids, like anyone who loves the sport, so it’s unbelievable to be able to come and drive here,” he said at the finish.
“To come away with a win is something incredibly special. It’s been a big challenge: Barney did a good set of notes, Ernie (Graham) and the FlexiFly team did a great job to keep the car going and I’m still blown away just to be here. I can’t quite believe it. Thank you to everybody among the organisers for having us here on such a great rally, and to the FIA organising team for a great championship.”
While the overall podium finishers celebrated, the rest of the EHRC winners were equally jubilant to reach the finish line, as the championship is effectively four separate titles under one banner.
Category 1 for cars built up to the end of 1969, victory went to Czech pairing Oldrich Kovarik Sr and co-driver Petr Dufek in their Škoda Octavia Super. In Category 2 for cars built between 1970 and 1975, Paulo Pasutti and co-driver Giovanni-Batista Campeis from Italy took the spoils in their Porsche 911 Carrera RS.
McCormack won Category 3 for cars built between 1976 and 1981, while Pierangioli won Category 4, the class for the youngest cars in current historic competition, built between 1982 and 1990.
After the event podium ceremony, the crews slipped into their evening finery for the gala championship awards, held at the X-Bowling art gallery in Elefsina. They were joined by the majority of category champions who jetted in from across Europe for the occasion. On hand to present the awards was John Naylor, President of the FIA Historic Motorsport Commission, who expressed his delight at the EHRC’s successes in 2023.
“The feedback from all of the crews, the teams and the event hosts has been better than ever in 2023,” he said.
“The depth and quality of the cars and the standards of preparation applied has been tremendous across the board. To see these evocative cars back in competitive action on events like the Acropolis, Costa Brava, Sanremo and all of the finest historic competitions in Europe is testament to the crews, their teams, the organisers and volunteers who make the sport happen.”
Top Finishers on Historic Rally Acropolis:
1. Martin McCormack/Barney Mitchell IRL/IRL Ford Escort Mk2 RS1800
2. Valter Pierangioli/ Sauro Farnocchia ITA/ITA Ford Sierra Cosworth 4x4
3. Ernie Graham/Karen Graham GBR/GBR Ford Escort Mk2 RS1800
4. Oldrich Kovarik Jr/Marek Kapic CZE/CZE Škoda Favorit 136L
5. Eric Guignard/Didier Meffre FRA/FRA Renault 5 Turbo Cevennes
6 Siegfried Mayr/Renate Mayr DEU/DEU Volvo 240
7. Tom Coughtrie/Alex Lee GBR/GBR Ford Escort Mk2 RS1800
8. Paolo Pasutti/Giovanni-Battista Campeis ITA/ITA Porsche 911 Carrera RS
9 Oldrich Kovarik Sr/Petr Dufek CZE/CZE Škoda Octavia Super
Category winners: Cat. 1 Kovarik Sr/Dufek, Cat. 2 Pasutti/Campeis, Cat. 3 McCormack/Mitchell, 4 Pierangioli/Farnocchia
2023 FIA European Historic Rally Championship – Category Champions
Category 1: Ernie Graham/Karen Graham Ford Escort Mk1 Twin Cam
Category 2: Valter Jensen/Erik Pedersen Ford Escort Mk2 RS1800
Category 3: Karl Wagner/Gerda Zauner Porsche 911 3.0 SC
Category 4: Luigi ‘Lucky’ Battistoli /Fabrizia Pons Lancia Delta Integrale 16v