Rovanpera extends WRC lead with rapid home run for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing
TOKYO, Aug 8, 2022 – (JCN Newswire via SEAPRWire.com) – TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team’s Kalle Rovanpera has further extended his FIA World Rally Championship lead with a well-calculated drive to second place on a ferociously fast Rally Finland, as team-mate and fellow Finn Esapekka Lappi survived remarkable late drama to join him on the podium at their home rally.
Tasked with sweeping the gravel roads around their hometown of Jyvaskyla, Rovanpera and co-driver Jonne Halttunen ended Friday 21 seconds from the lead and fourth overall on a rally known for high speeds and narrow margins. Willed on by the local support in the spiritual home of rallying, Rovanpera was then rapid through the longest day of the rally on Saturday and fastest in six out of eight stages to climb to second overall and slash the gap to the leader to 8.4s.
He thus went into the final day still eyeing a famous home win, but was not in a position to risk everything while on course to strengthen his grip on the championship and ultimately had to settle for second place, only 6.8s behind Ott Tanak. He did however take the maximum five bonus points for the fastest time in the rally-ending Power Stage, which increases his advantage to 94 points with five rallies remaining.
The first Rally Finland for the new generation of hybrid Rally1 cars was the fourth-fastest WRC round of all time, and the incredibly close lead fight required drivers to have good confidence in their cars despite limited testing on such roads. The GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID recorded the quickest time in 15 of the 22 stages.
Lappi led the Toyota charge through Friday and much of Saturday, before a freak incident with a rock that deflected up and damaged his windscreen, hampering visibility. He was to encounter further drama in the penultimate stage of the rally, which was heavily rutted. One such rut on the exit of a corner caused him to roll over three times. He was able to complete the stage while losing only 20 seconds and remaining third overall, but he and co-driver Janne Ferm had to carry out roadside repairs including removing the car’s windscreen and topping up a radiator.
Incredibly, despite the obvious damage, they lost only 10 further seconds in the final stage to hold onto third by a relatively comfortable 16.9s and score their second podium of the season.
Like his team-mates, Elfyn Evans was also part of the thrilling lead battle for much of the weekend before having to make repairs of his own after damaging his suspension on Saturday afternoon. He and co-driver Scott Martin still finished fourth overall and took third in the Power Stage: Points that ensure TGR increased its manufacturers’ championship lead by one point to 88.
Takamoto Katsuta and co-driver Aaron Johnston ensured there were four GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRIDs inside the top six for almost the entire rally. By finishing sixth they continue their unbroken 2022 scoring run for TGR WRT Next Generation after Katsuta’s strongest performance yet on the roads around his Finnish hometown.
For more information, visit https://toyotagazooracing.com/wrc/release/2022/rd08-day4/.
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