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WRC Rally Chile

Rovanpera focused on Evans head-to-head not WRC victory in Chile

Kalle Rovanpera says his main objective at Rally Chile is to drive “clever" and score more points than World Rally Championship title rival Elfyn Evans, rather than focus on victory.

Kalle Rovanpera, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

The reigning world champion has an opportunity to seal a second consecutive world title this weekend, although the Finn rates his chances of achieving the feat as “small” heading into the gravel rally.

Rovanpera holds a 33-point lead over his Toyota team-mate Evans with 90 points remaining from the final three events of the season.

To successfully defend his world title this weekend he would need to win the rally and finish at least fourth fastest on the final Power Stage, if Evans fails to register any points.

Rovanpera will face the added challenge of opening the roads as championship leader. The rally will, however, provide a level playing field of sorts with only one stage retained from the championship’s only previous visit back in 2019, when Rovanpera was competing in Rally2.

“We need to be clever and my only goal is to compare to Elfyn and try to score more points than him," said Rovanpera, who was second fastest and 0.5s slower than rival Evans on Thursday’s shakedown stage.

“I haven’t really calculated it [what I need to win the title] but it is still quite a small chance. I’m not thinking about it much.

“If we are fighting with him and if we can get more points than him then we don’t need to be fighting for the other positions.

Kalle Rovanpera, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Kalle Rovanpera, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Photo by: Toyota Racing

“After the recce the roads are quite nice stages and really technical and tricky.

“I think the key will be to try and manage tomorrow with opening the road and a lot of loose gravel, but I think there will be quite a lot of tyre choices, the ones we have to make will be crucial.”

Drivers’ title fight aside, Toyota could wrap up a third consecutive manufacturers’ crown if it can outscore rivals Hyundai by 13 points.

Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala believes a tense drivers’ title fight between Rovanpera and Evans will help the team in its constructors’ battle as neither driver will want to risk crashing out of the event.

“The manufacturers’ title is something that we really want to achieve but we have to remember that at the same time Elfyn and Kalle are fighting for the drivers’ title, so we need to let them fight,” said Latvala.

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“We know there are some risks but both drivers know they cannot lose any points because it could be over for Elfyn if he goes off. At the same time, if Kalle goes off he knows Elfyn will be getting very close.

“I believe that this situation helps us also in the manufacturers’ title. They [the drivers] know the situation and how to approach the rally and hopefully they will bring us points for the manufacturers’ championship.”

Rally Chile begins on Friday with the opening stage scheduled to begin at 12:35 BST.

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