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Why WRC stars Rovanpera and Evans are rallying this weekend

Toyota’s desire to win its home World Rally Championship round in Finland next week has led it to enter Kalle Rovanpera and Elfyn Evans into as local rally this weekend.

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

Five days after dominating Rally Estonia, the reigning world champion Rovanpera is set to tackle the Hyacenter Rally, in Tampere, Finland, alongside his Toyota teem-mate Evans, who finished fourth last weekend.

It's the first time Toyota has fielded its two lead GR Yaris entries in a national rally outside of the WRC schedule this year. The Hyacenter Rally features eight stage comprising 80 kilometres, utilising roads that featured in previous editions of Rally Finland.

Last year the Toyota squad, based at Rally Finland headquarters, Jyvaskyla, lost out to Hyundai on home soil as Ott Tanak defeated Rovanpera.

Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala says this weekend’s extra preparation is to ensure the team is better placed to claim a home victory next week.

“We were not that good in Finland. I think what happened last year is we were strong in Estonia and then we were not competitive in Finland,” Latvala told Autosport.

“The philosophy in Toyota’s world is to try to improve so we will try to improve in the home rally, so it is better to do this event with two cars. We want to be there in Finland and try to win the home event.

"There was a couple events that we looked at after last season and Finland and Japan were events that didn’t go that well, along with Sardinia. In Sardinia this year we were at least a bit better there performance-wise but those were the the events where we are looking to improve. That is why we are taking it seriously.”

After such a dominant performance last weekend on similar smooth, fast gravel roads that will feature on Rally Finland, Rovanpera still believes it is beneficial to be back behind the wheel this week.

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

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

Photo by: Toyota Racing

“Yeah of course I think it will be good to do this rally,” Rovanpera told Autosport.

“Let’s hope we can make a quick car and that can always makes pushing a bit easier. If you need to push with the car all the time it is not optimal.”

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Evans added: “Finland is one of those rallies where you can really gain something from being comfortable and having a good feeling beforehand and I think this time slot to have a rally this weekend has worked in terms of the calendar and testing, so it made sense to send us.

“It is a brilliant opportunity to do some mileage on those roads.”

The Toyota duo will also be joined by M-Sport-Ford. The British squad will field a Puma for Pierre-Louis Loubet, instead of Tanak, who was initially expected to compete.

“Ott doesn’t want to try anything radically different [on the car] and he has a test day before the rally anyway, so Pierre will do the rally and hopefully that will be good for him,” team principal Richard Millener told Autosport.

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