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Finnish duo Rovanpera, Halttunen wins Acropolis Rally

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The Finnish crew of Kalle Rovanpera and Jonne Halttunen won the Acropolis Rally, after leading most of the four-day World Rally Championship race.

Rovanpera, driving a Toyota Yaris, beat Ott Tanak of the Hyundai team by 42.1 seconds. Rovanpera’s stablemate Sebastien Ogier, the defending champion, and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia, came third, 1 minute 11.3 seconds behind.

Rovanpera’s victory comes less than two months after he became, at 20, the youngest winner in WRC history by winning Rally Estonia.

After nine of the WRC’s 12 rounds, Ogier leads the standings with 180 points, ahead of Elfyn Evans with 136, and Thierry Neuville on 130. Rovanpera (129 points) and Tanak (106) are in 4th and 5th place, respectively.

In the Manufacturers’ Championship, Toyota Gazoo (397 points) leads Hyundai Shell (340) and M-Sport Ford (153).

The 15-stage Acropolis Rally was held for the first time since 2013. The return was celebrated Thursday with a crowd-pleasing, if short, special stage around Athens’ main Syntagma Square, won by Ogier. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis started the race at the foot of the Acropolis.

The rally ended in the city of Lamia, central Greece, with most stages being held in the surrounding mountains.

Besides the often challenging terrain, the drivers had to contend with spectators standing too close to the road.

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More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

By DEMETRIS NELLAS
Associated Press

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