Rovanpera focused on NZ fightback after one of his “worst” WRC events

World Rally Championship leader Kalle Rovanpera has vowed to come back stronger in New Zealand after admitting his Acropolis Rally was one of the worst of his career.

Rovanpera focused on NZ fightback after one of his “worst” WRC events

The Finn faced a second opportunity to become the youngest ever world rally champion if he could outscore Hyundai’s Ott Tanak by 18 points in Greece last weekend.

However, Rovanpera found himself more than minute adrift of the front runners on Friday, as the effects of cleaning the road were much greater than expected.

Coupled with a poor road position, Rovanpera and his Toyota team-mates Elfyn Evans, Esapekka Lappi and Takamoto Katsuta all struggled for outright pace from the GR Yaris.

It is understood that set up struggles can be partly attributed to a difficult pre-event test, where two of the team’s drivers ran off the road, while inclement weather meant Toyota had one full test day at its disposal in the correct conditions.

Rovanpera’s hopes of a strong points haul were ended on Saturday when he sideswiped a tree, ripping the entire tailgate from his GR Yaris and damaging his rear brakes and suspension. This cost him more than 16 minutes.

The 21-year salvaged four bonus points from the rally ending powerstage to reduce the damage to his championship lead to 53 points over Tanak, who finished second overall and claimed the five-point bonus.

“Of course, I have done many good and bad weekends, but this is one of the worst ones,” said Rovanpera, who can now wrap up the title in New Zealand if he scores eight points more than Tanak.

“It was a bad weekend for me and bad weekend for the team also, so we need to improve and be stronger for the next one.

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: Toyota Racing

“It has been a long and tough weekend, more difficult than we expected and not what we wanted. At least we were able to get some points in the powerstage.

“We tried to do our best in the powerstage. It wasn’t easy, I had to push everywhere including in the rough parts but we managed to get some good points so the situation isn’t so bad for the championship. Now we need to concentrate on the next one and come back much stronger.”

Toyota’s Acropolis Rally weekend was compounded by a fuel pressure issue forcing Lappi out of second spot on Saturday, while Evans retired from fourth on Sunday due to a suspected turbo issue.

It left Katsuta as the top Toyota in sixth overall as the Japanese maintained his run as the only driver to finish every WRC round in the points.

Toyota boss Jari-Matti Latvala says it is important his team learns from the weekend before heading to New Zealand at the end of the month.

“It was a poor weekend but it wasn’t catastrophic,” said Latvala after witnessing Toyota’s manufacturers’ title lead reduced to 63 points over Hyundai following the latter’s 1-2-3 in Greece.

“We have to remember even though it looks really bad we eventually still scored 18 points plus five on the powerstage for the manufacturers’ championship which keeps us in a nice lead.

“But of course we have to learn from this weekend and why things went wrong, and we need to improve for the future.

"It was combination of many things happening but I would rather have everything at one time than having things happen at many different events.

“We can take the learning from it and head to Rally New Zealand with a fresh mind.”

shares
comments

Related video

How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy
Previous article

How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy

Next article

Autosport Podcast: WRC Acropolis Rally Greece review

Autosport Podcast: WRC Acropolis Rally Greece review
How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy Plus

How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy

Thierry Neuville led a maiden Hyundai 1-2-3 in the World Rally Championship, as the previously soft i20 N became a battle-hardened Greek warrior at the Acropolis Rally. But with team orders in play between the winner and Hyundai’s title protagonist Ott Tanak, could the result come back to haunt the team?

WRC
Sep 12, 2022
How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders Plus

How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders

After runaway World Rally Championship leader Kalle Rovanpera made his first major mistake of the season, the chance to take advantage was wide open for the chasing pack. Several of his rivals faltered to grasp the opportunity, but Ott Tanak made no such mistake and demonstrated his class with a third win of the campaign

WRC
Aug 22, 2022
Inside Toyota’s new WRC dream factory where rally conquerers come to life Plus

Inside Toyota’s new WRC dream factory where rally conquerers come to life

Toyota locked out the top four places in the World Rally Championship's recent Safari Rally Kenya in a clear indication of its GR Yaris Rally1 hybrid's pace and durability. Autosport was recently given a tour of the new factory where its cars are designed, tested and built, and it reveals much about the commitment of the Japanese marque to continued WRC success

WRC
Aug 19, 2022
How Rovanpera has reignited Finland's rallying obsession Plus

How Rovanpera has reignited Finland's rallying obsession

Finland may have a small population, but it has long enjoyed rallying success. Now that the nation has a new star to cheer in the form of Kalle Rovanpera, interest in the discipline is surging once again

WRC
Aug 10, 2022
How Tanak spoiled Rovanpera’s Finnish homecoming Plus

How Tanak spoiled Rovanpera’s Finnish homecoming

Kalle Rovanpera and Toyota went into Rally Finland as overwhelming favourites but came away as runners-up to a resurgent Ott Tanak and Hyundai. While it may have dampened the homecoming party, it still moved the Finn closer to the ultimate World Rally Championship prize

WRC
Aug 8, 2022
Inside Hyundai’s F1-spec mobile WRC home Plus

Inside Hyundai’s F1-spec mobile WRC home

Hyundai is one of the World Rally Championship's big three, and has a brand-new travelling facility befitting of that status. The team invited Autosport for a behind-the-scenes look at its state-of-the-art HQ, which comes complete with all the bells and whistles you'd expect of a top Formula 1 outfit

WRC
Jul 27, 2022
How Rovanpera's latest Estonia masterclass left his WRC rivals stumped Plus

How Rovanpera's latest Estonia masterclass left his WRC rivals stumped

After trailing Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans for much of Rally Estonia's opening day, WRC points leader Kalle Rovanpera took advantage of a change in the weather and never looked back afterwards. Winning for a fifth time this year at the scene of his 2021 breakthrough, and with a breathtaking powerstage bonus for good measure, his advantage is already looking difficult to topple

WRC
Jul 18, 2022
How the WRC captures its stunning visuals Plus

How the WRC captures its stunning visuals

Whether it’s the mountains of Monte Carlo, the snow of Sweden or the Kenya Savannah, the World Rally Championship is able to beam some of motorsport’s most spectacular footage to television screens while operating in the harshest of environments. Autosport went behind the scenes to unearth the secrets that make this logistical challenge possible

WRC
Jul 7, 2022