Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe

WRC Sweden: Rovanpera sets the pace on championship return

World champion Kalle Rovanpera kicked off his return to the World Rally Championship in style by winning the opening stage of Rally Sweden on Thursday night.

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

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

The two-time world champion, making the first start of his part-time 2024 WRC campaign, lit up the timing screens on the first of 18 snow stages - Umea Sprint, 5.16km.

Rovanpera, starting seventh on the road, posted a time 1.4s faster than Toyota team-mate Takamoto Katsuta.

“It is always ok when the time is on that side of the clock,” said Rovanpera. “This is always tricky as it is icy, so it is tough to find the grip.”

Toyota enjoyed a 1-2-3 on the first super special stage held under lights. Elfyn Evans, starting second on the road, clocked the third fastest time 0.6s adrift of Rovanpera’s pace. The Welshman felt he wasn’t brave enough in the slippery conditions.

Hyundai’s Ott Tanak and M-Sport’s Adrien Fourmaux posted identical times to sit tied fourth 2.1s off.

Tanak’s run wasn’t the most comfortable for the 2019 world champion, as he said: “It was a clean drive, just on the first braking, my nut got caught on the other side of the belt, so it was bit painful.”

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photo by: Austral / Hyundai Motorsport

Championship leader and first on the road Thierry Neuville struggled to generate traction from his i20 N, which resulted in the Belgian posting a time 2.7s adrift in sixth.

“We have to work a bit on the car to get a bit more traction tomorrow,” said Neuville. “We have to get good braking points, I was struggling a bit.”

Hyundai’s Esapekka Lappi was surprisingly slow compared to his rivals as the Finn dropped 4.6s on his return to the championship as a part-time driver in seventh.

“I don’t know. I guess it shows we do not have enough grip,” said Lappi.

M-Sport’s Gregoire Munster (+8.4s) came through in eighth ahead of top Rally2 competitor Oliver Solberg, who was only 0.4s behind Munster’s Rally1 Puma. The top 10 was completed by Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 driver Roope Korhonen.

The rally continues on Friday with crews tackling seven stages comprising of 107.90km.

Be part of the Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article Hyundai confident Tanak’s WRC engine issue won’t return in Sweden
Next article WRC Sweden: Katsuta leads as Rovanpera, Tanak crash out

Top Comments

There are no comments at the moment. Would you like to write one?

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe