WRC Croatia: Rovanpera responds to Tanak’s Saturday charge

Kalle Rovanpera will head into Rally Croatia’s final day equipped with a healthy lead after responding to Ott Tanak’s charge on Saturday afternoon.

The Toyota driver came under pressure from Hyundai's Tanak after losing almost a minute to the 2019 world champion following a front left puncture on Stage 11 earlier this morning.

Tanak managed to close to within 13s of Rovanpera during the afternoon before the rally leader fought back winning the final stage of the day, his seventh fastest time of the event, to extend his overall lead to 19.9s.

Tanak emerged as Rovanpera’s nearest rival after his Hyundai team-mate Thierry Neuville was hit with a one minute penalty overnight for speeding on a road section that dropped the Belgian from second to fourth overall.

M-Sport-Ford’s Craig Breen ended the day in the final podium position but only has slender 4.9s advantage over Neuville in fourth. Neuville started the day 28.8s behind Breen but produced a stirring fightback despite battling against an engine issue.

Toyota’s Elfyn Evans ended the day in fifth after moving up a position following Oliver Solberg’s crash on stage 9, that resulted in his Hyundai catching fire. Solberg and co-driver Elliott Edmondson escaped the incident unharmed.

Takamoto Katsuta was the last of the Rally1 cars, to have completed the full distance thus far, in sixth.

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photo by: Austral / Hyundai Motorsport

For the first time this weekend crews faced sunny and dry conditions for the first of the afternoon’s stages, a repeat of the test that was cancelled after Solberg’s high-speed crash.

Retuning to the action after a collision with a boulder ended his Friday early, Esapekka Lappi notched up his second stage win of the day as the Toyota driver pipped Neuville to the fastest time by 0.7s.

Neuville’s time arrived despite his Hyundai suffering from an engine problem that limited him to 40% throttle for the final five kilometres.

Battling a gearbox issue, Tanak took more time out of rally leader Rovanpera, cutting the overall deficit to 13s as the latter elected for a more cautious approach after the earlier puncture.

Lappi struck again on Stage 14 to claim a hat trick of fastest times, this time he had a 2.7s margin over Neuville, who confirmed that his engine was working normally in the stage.

Neuville’s pace allowed him to take more time out of the gap to Breen, sitting in third overall, with the gap coming down to 5.9s.

Rovanpera managed to get the better of Tanak which saw his overall lead extend back out to 14.8s.

Craig Breen, Paul Nagle, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Craig Breen, Paul Nagle, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Photo by: M-Sport

The crews were forced to skip Stage 15 as event organisers cancelled the stage for safety reasons due to poor visibility, as thick fog descended around the 15.85km test.

The final stage of the day, held in the late evening sun, was won by Rovanpera by 3.4s from team-mate Lappi.

"This is my reply. It was a good stage - full send,” said Rovanpera when asked if this was a reply to Tanak’s pressure.

Neuville managed to claw another second back over Breen after beating the Irishman to the third fastest time in the stage.

Rally Croatia concludes on Sunday after four more stages.

Results:

Cla Driver/Codriver Car Total Time Gap Interval
1 Finland Kalle Rovanperä
Finland Jonne Halttunen
Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 2:10'18.500    
2 Belgium Thierry Neuville
Belgium Martijn Wydaeghe
Hyundai i20 N Rally1 2:10'23.100 4.600 4.600
3 Estonia Ott Tanak
Estonia Martin Jarveoja
Hyundai i20 N Rally1 2:10'33.300 14.800 10.200
4 Ireland Craig Breen
Ireland Paul Nagle
Ford Puma Rally1 2:11'27.200 1'08.700 53.900
5 United Kingdom Elfyn Evans
United Kingdom Scott Martin
Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 2:12'21.400 2'02.900 54.200
6 Japan Takamoto Katsuta
Aaron Johnston
Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 2:15'58.200 5'39.700 3'36.800
7 France Yohan Rossel
France Valentin Sarreaud
Citroën C3 Rally2 2:18'16.400 7'57.900 2'18.200
8 Russian Federation Nikolay Gryazin
Konstantin Aleksandrov
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo 2:18'55.800 8'37.300 39.400
9 Poland Kajetan Kajetanowicz
Poland Maciek Szczepaniak
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo 2:19'12.400 8'53.900 16.600
10 Finland Emil Lindholm
Reeta Hämäläinen
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo 2:19'41.100 9'22.600 28.700
11 Chris Ingram
United Kingdom Craig Drew
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo 2:20'32.100 10'13.600 51.000
12 France Eric Camilli
Thibault De la Haye
Citroën C3 Rally2 2:20'44.100 10'25.600 12.000
13 France Stéphane Lefebvre
Andy Malfoy
Citroën C3 Rally2 2:21'00.600 10'42.100 16.500
14 Sami Pajari
Enni Mälkönen
Ford Fiesta Rally3 2:22'44.300 12'25.800 1'43.700
15 Robert Virves
Aleks Lesk
Ford Fiesta Rally3 2:22'46.400 12'27.900 2.100
16 Erik Cais
Petr Těšínský
Ford Fiesta Rally2 2:23'00.500 12'42.000 14.100
17 Lauri Joona
Finland Mikael Korhonen
Ford Fiesta Rally3 2:23'47.500 13'29.000 47.000
18 United Kingdom Gus Greensmith
Sweden Jonas Andersson
Ford Puma Rally1 2:24'11.100 13'52.600 23.600
19 Mikko Heikkilä
Samu Vaaleri
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo 2:25'37.200 15'18.700 1'26.100
20 Mikołaj Marczyk
Poland Szymon Gospodarczyk
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo 2:25'50.700 15'32.200 13.500
21 Armin Kremer
Germany Timo Gottschalk
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo 2:26'00.000 15'41.500 9.300
22 United States Sean Johnston
Alexander Kihurani
Citroën C3 Rally2 2:26'03.800 15'45.300 3.800
23 Johannes Keferbock
Ilka Minor
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo 2:28'07.600 17'49.100 2'03.800
24 Jean-Baptiste Franceschi
Anthony Gorguilo
Ford Fiesta Rally3 2:28'13.100 17'54.600 5.500
25 Mexico Benito Guerra
Spain Daniel Cue
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo 2:29'16.800 18'58.300 1'03.700
26 Mauro Miele
Luca Beltrame
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo 2:29'33.300 19'14.800 16.500
27 Olivier Burri
Anderson Levratti
Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 2:30'01.400 19'42.900 28.100
28 France Pierre Ragues
Julien Pesenti
Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 2:31'31.400 21'12.900 1'30.000
29 Slovenia Aljosa Novak
Uroš Ocvirk
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo 2:34'29.000 24'10.500 2'57.600
30 Darko Peljhan
Matej Čar
Škoda Fabia R5 2:36'45.100 26'26.600 2'16.100
31 Róbert Bútor
Róbert Tagai
Peugeot 208 Rally4 2:37'21.400 27'02.900 36.300
32 Finland Jari Huttunen
Mikko Lukka
Ford Fiesta Rally2 2:39'30.900 29'12.400 2'09.500
33 Alfred Kramer
Jeannette Andersson
Peugeot 208 Rally4 2:39'54.600 29'36.100 23.700
34 Vlastimil Majerčák
Jakub Slovák
Ford Fiesta Rally3 2:40'38.700 30'20.200 44.100
35 Zoltán László
Tamás Kürti
Ford Fiesta Rally3 2:43'56.000 33'37.500 3'17.300
36 Italy Enrico Brazzoli
Italy Manuel Fenoli
Ford Fiesta Rally3 2:45'05.400 34'46.900 1'09.400
37 Fabrizio Arengi
Massimiliano Bosi
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo 2:45'12.100 34'53.600 6.700
38 Viliam Prodan
Zoran Raštegorac
Renault Clio Rally4 2:45'14.600 34'56.100 2.500
39 United Kingdom Neil Simpson
Michael Gibson
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo 2:45'34.700 35'16.200 20.100
40 Martin Ravenščak
Marko Stiperski
Ford Fiesta Rally4 2:45'41.000 35'22.500 6.300
41 Ivica Siladić
Jasna Durak
Ford Fiesta Rally3 2:46'50.700 36'32.200 1'09.700
42 Niko Pulic
Aleksandra Kovačić
Škoda Fabia R5 2:46'58.100 36'39.600 7.400
43 Lazar Milovanović
Goran Rabasović
Ford Fiesta Rally4 2:47'41.100 37'22.600 43.000
44 Krešimir Ravenščak
Dora Ravenščak
Ford Fiesta Rally4 2:51'52.100 41'33.600 4'11.000
45 Georg Linnamäe
United Kingdom James Morgan
Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 2:52'05.000 41'46.500 12.900
46 McRae Kimathi
Mwangi Kioni
Ford Fiesta Rally3 2:52'35.600 42'17.100 30.600
47 Filippo Marchino
Roberto Briani
Škoda Fabia R5 2:54'05.100 43'46.600 1'29.500
48 Netherlands Henk Vossen
Hans van Goor
Ford Fiesta R5 2:59'34.700 49'16.200 5'29.600
49 Mexico Ricardo Trivino
Spain Marc Marti
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo 3:02'10.400 51'51.900 2'35.700
50 France Pierre-Louis Loubet
France Vincent Landais
Ford Puma Rally1 3:15'22.900 1:05'04.400 13'12.500
51 Jan Pokos
Viljem Ošlaj
Ford Fiesta Rally4 3:18'31.200 1:08'12.700 3'08.300
52 Finland Esapekka Lappi
Finland Janne Ferm
Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 3:29'22.100 1:19'03.600 10'50.900
53 William Creighton
Liam Regan
Ford Fiesta Rally3 3:36'47.600 1:26'29.100 7'25.500
54 Carlo Covi
Michela Lorigiola
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo 3:40'15.100 1:29'56.600 3'27.500
55 Osamu Fukunaga
Misako Saida
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo 3:43'05.900 1:32'47.400 2'50.800
56 Željko Magličić
Ivan Poljak
Ford Fiesta Rally4 3:49'22.000 1:39'03.500 6'16.100
57 Cristiana Oprea
Andrei Mitrașcă
Peugeot 208 R2 4:10'45.000 2:00'26.500 21'23.000
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