Acropolis Rally: Neuville tops, McRae fourth in category

Belgian driver Thierry Neuville and his Belgian co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe

Belgian driver Thierry Neuville and his Belgian co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe drive their Hyundai i20 N Rally 1 Hybrid at the special stage, 11,26km between Elatia and Rengini during the Acropolis rally on September 11, 2022.

Photo credit: Aris Messinis | AFP

What you need to know:

  • It has been a six-month journey for Kimathi, who made his  debut in the JWRC as a rookie in Rally Sweden last February
  • The Kenyans have been a sensation and the odd ones out for the Greek fans here, being the first black Africans to make a huge commitment in the highly competitive WRC
  • Neuville led a Hyundai podium sweep as championship leader Kalle Rovanpera salvaged a few points from the wreckage in the closing Power Stage



Kenya’s McRae Kimathi concluded his campaign in the Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC) with a fourth place finish here Sunday after four days of fast and demanding EKO WRC Acropolis Rally which saw Hyundai make a clean sweep on the podium for the first time in their WRC campaign led by winner Thierry Neuville.

It has been a six-month journey for Kimathi, who made his  debut in the JWRC as a rookie in Rally Sweden last February. On Sunday, he proclaimed that he is now a teenager in terms of rallying after finishing fourth in JWRC class and fifth overall in the final points standings.

“I started the season in Sweden as a boy. Today I feel that I am a teenager, and from here I can only become a man in rallying,” Kimathi, flanked by his navigator Mwangi Kioni and Greek fans, said.

The Kenyans have been a sensation and the odd ones out for the Greek fans here, being the first black Africans to make a huge commitment in the highly competitive WRC.

Finishing on Sunday was a Herculean task in temperatures of 65 degree centigrade inside the car, an experience Kimathi said was nearly suicidal. “I have never felt so tired and drained. The last three days have been crazy but it is a new experience which I didn’t mind because the weather affected everybody,” he said.

“I wish to thank my co-driver Mwas (Mwangi Kioni), M-Sport Ford Poland, Safaricom, Kenya Airways and the WRC Safari Rally Kenya for believing in me,” said Kimathi who has concluded the JWRC in fifth position after racing in Sweden, Croatia, Portugal, Estonia and Greece.

The WRC Safari Rally Kenya CEO Phineas Kimathi said in a message: “Congratulations to McRae Kimathi and Mwangi Kioni for conquering the Rally Acropolis, and finishing in 4th position. Hard work and consistency works. You have done yourselves and the entire country proud. Hongera.” 

Robert Virves won the JWRC to earn top prize of four drives in the 2023 WRC2 series with an M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally2. He will also have the chance to test the car prior to each round whilst also receiving a full 200 tyres package courtesy of Pirelli.

Kimathi’s journey has been uneventful. He won the Africa junior rally title last year, earning an automatic slot in the JWRC under the FIA Rally Star programme.

Meanwhile, Neuville led a Hyundai podium sweep as championship leader Kalle Rovanpera salvaged a few points from the wreckage in the closing Power Stage.

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