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WRC Rally Estonia

Evans had "no answer" to Rovanpera's WRC Estonia pace

Toyota’s Elfyn Evans says he had “no answer” to Kalle Rovanpera’s blistering pace at Rally Estonia as he watched his team-mate surge into a comfortable lead.

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

The World Rally Championship runner-up from the past two seasons started Saturday 11.7s adrift of Rovanpera, after losing a 10.9s rally lead when heavy rain arrived in Friday’s last stage.

Evans took a nibble out of the Finn’s lead on Saturday morning before Rovanpera stepped up his pace in changeable weather to win seven consecutive stages, opening up a 29.1s lead heading into Sunday.

The Welshman says he was unable to summon the required response leaving him facing a tall order to overhaul the 21-year-old Rovanpera to score a first win of the season.

“Realistically, now there's quite a big gap," said Evans. “In this rally you need to be consistently chipping in the times and to be fair to Kalle, I've had no answer this afternoon - and even all day, to be fair. He's done very well so far.

“I think it has been a pretty hot pace to be fair, but of course Kalle has had the edge especially this afternoon, he has had a really good day and was difficult to follow to be fair.

“I think he is in a position with more to lose than I am, but he is going for it so I think he has driven well. My rhythm was the rhythm we had. The risk tapered off a bit as the conditions got worse and the gaps started to open up.

“The day has still been okay but you are never happy when your team-mate is in front.”

Kalle Rovanpera, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Kalle Rovanpera, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Asked if Rovanpera’s impressive form, that has so far delivered four wins from six rounds, has come as a surprise, Evans said: “I think we have seen his speed right for day dot when he first came into the championship and if you remember back to that rally in Sweden [2020] he was on the podium straight away.

“The speed is no surprise but of course what he has been able to do with a couple of years [of] experience is bring this consistency to every round. It is not a surprise.”

Reflecting on near-perfect day, rally leader Rovanpera felt he drove “quite well” across the nine stages revealing that he elected to take a measured approach given the tricky conditions.

“Of course it was a nice day overall, and the afternoon was great for us,” said Rovanpera.

"I felt we were driving well and pushing quite hard all the time but still managing the risk a bit and not pushing in the rough places. I think we did quite well.

“I wouldn’t really say there is much pace left, but in a way it is not about pushing the limit all the time. I can manage the speed in the rough places. I don’t need to push the car in the rough places, and of course everywhere else we go flat out.”

Rally Estonia will conclude on Sunday after a further six stages.

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