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WRC Rally Finland

Rovanpera wants to “stay clever” in Finland amid WRC title battle

Kalle Rovanpera admits it would be “special” to win on home soil at Rally Finland this weekend, but says he must "stay clever" to protect his World Rally Championship lead.

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

The reigning world rally champion heads to Finland after producing arguably his most dominant drive yet to claim a 10th career WRC win in Estonia two weeks ago.

Rovanpera continued a perfect lead up to his home event by winning the Hyacenter Rally in Tampere, Finland last weekend, after defeating Toyota WRC team-mate Elfyn Evans by 11.6s across the eight stages.

However, the 22-year-old is expecting a much tougher test to become the first Finn to win Rally Finland since Esapekka Lappi's run to his only WRC win to date in 2017.

Rovanpera will face the disadvantage of starting first on the fast gravel roads while three-time Rally Finland winner M-Sport’s Ott Tanak will start fourth.

The Finn also has one eye on his championship lead, which stands at 55 points over Evans, as he aims to become only the sixth driver in 50 years to successfully defend a WRC crown this season.

“Finland is definitely going to be trickier. Knowing Ott will be starting in a better position than last year, it is not going to be easy but it is home rally and I need to try and do my best,” Rovanpera told Autosport.

“It would be special [to win] but also I want to stay clever with the championship fight let’s say.

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

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

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

"We have done a good job with the championship all year so we need to have good points from Finland, so I don’t want to mess up a good points haul.”

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With thousands of Finnish rally fans hoping for a home win, Rovanpera will face a weight of expectation to deliver this weekend.

Toyota WRC boss Jari-Matti Latvala, who will return to the deriving seat in a fourth GR Yaris this weekends, believes the pressure won’t affect Rovanpera.

“He is so cool that he doesn’t seem to suffer from pressure which is one of his biggest assets of his nature,” Latvala told Autosport.

“He doesn’t really worry about it. I think it will be quite easy for him to go to Finland.

“Winning there will be more difficult than Estonia. He has the skills to drive it but Finland has a different grip level and we have new stages on Friday, so let’s see if the drivers starting further back can attack better. But still for all the other drivers it will be tough to beat Kalle.”

Rally Finland will begin on Thursday evening with the first of 22 scheduled stages.

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