Rally Sweden: Day 3 Rovanperä fighting for a podium for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team’s Kalle Rovanperä is fighting for a podium finish on Rally Sweden with one day to go, with the reigning champion just 3.8 seconds away from third overall.
Rovanperä began the longest day of the rally on Saturday in fifth position, following a challenging Friday when he was disadvantaged running first on the road on the snow-covered stages. He showed strong pace from the start of the morning loop, where he halved his 20-second overnight deficit to third position, and moved up into fourth place ahead of team-mate Elfyn Evans before setting the fastest time in SS11.
He began the afternoon with another stage win in SS12, and then gained third overall in the next test. A brief spin reduced his margin over Thierry Neuville (Hyundai), and they were tied on overall time prior to the day’s final stage in Umeå, where his rival was able to claim a narrow advantage.
Evans also had a more time-consuming spin in the first stage of the afternoon and he ended the day in fifth position, 30.2s from Rovanperä.
Following a roll on Friday afternoon, the team was able to repair Takamoto Katsuta’s damaged car so that he could restart this morning, and gain valuable new experience opening the road on snow.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“The longest day of the rally here in Sweden has been quite a tough one, I must say. Kalle had been fighting back well this morning to get into the battle for the podium. But it seems that this afternoon the tyre wear was very high, which on a snow rally like this means that you’re losing the studs, and I think that was affecting us in the last two stages especially. Kalle tried as hard as he could against Neuville but it seems his tyres were more heavily used and he was losing some time. But it’s still quite close and we will keep up the fight tomorrow.”
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“It has been a big fight today. In the first pass we did quite well. The feeling in the car was not perfect but still we could do some good times. The afternoon was not so good. I think we messed up a bit with our plan for the tyres. I don’t think we were necessarily wearing them more than our rivals but they were rotating them better between each stage; we ended up with worse tyres for the last two stages and lost too much time. But tomorrow there are still many kilometres to go with a new stage in the morning. We’ll try to do well on the first pass and see what we can do after that.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“Today has not been our day to be honest. I’ve struggled again to feel comfortable behind the wheel and I think that has shown in the times, and of course we had the spin this afternoon that has put us further behind. I’ve not been able to find the confidence needed so it’s been a disappointing weekend so far. With the pace we’ve had we’re too far away and now we just have to salvage what we can tomorrow; secure some points and see what’s possible on the Power Stage.”
Takamoto Katsuta (Driver car 18)
“I was very happy to be back on the stages this morning. A big thank you to the team: they fixed the car perfectly. It looked and felt brand-new and I got back the good feeling that I had yesterday. The only thing that had changed was our road position. The conditions opening the road were quite difficult and a new experience for me on snow. There was a lot of learning and the pace was pretty fine when the conditions were OK, I was just losing time when there was a lot of snow and we needed to create the lines. Tomorrow I will focus on the Power Stage and try to push for some points there.”
End of day three (Saturday):
1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) 1h54m45.4s
2 Craig Breen/James Fulton (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +8.6s
3 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +23.7s
4 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +27.5s
5 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +57.7s
6 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Nicolas Gilsoul (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +2m28.1s
7 Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +5m55.0s
8 Ole Christian Veiby/Torstein Eriksen (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5) +6m46.6s
9 Sami Pajari/Enni Mälkönen (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +7m08.9s
10 Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +7m20.0s
40 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +31m18.3s
(Results as of 18:45 on Saturday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
The final day consists of 63.04 competitive kilometres and begins with two passes of a new stage, Västervik, which will be separated by final service. The rally ends in Umeå with the Power Stage, a repeat of Saturday night’s SS15.
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