Rally Estonia: Day 4 Rovanperä and TOYOTA GAZOO Racing rule rapid Estonian roads again
Kalle Rovanperä has stormed to a dominant Rally Estonia victory for the third year in a row with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team, extending his lead in the FIA World Rally Championship.
Guided by co-driver Jonne Halttunen, Rovanperä once again looked at home aboard his GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID on some of the fastest roads in the WRC. He held a narrow lead at the end of Friday despite having to run first on the loose gravel stages, and was quite literally unbeatable thereafter as he pulled clear of the competition.
He recorded a remarkable run of 13 consecutive stage wins from Saturday morning until the rally-ending Power Stage on Sunday afternoon – becoming the first driver to have such a streak of fastest times on a WRC round since Sébastien Loeb in Germany 15 years ago.
Quickest in the finale by two seconds, he secured his second win of the season by 52.7s overall and claimed the maximum 30 points to increase his standings lead to 55 points. The victory is his 10th in the WRC in the two years since he became its youngest-ever winner on Rally Estonia 2021.
Elfyn Evans remains second in the drivers’ standings after he and co-driver Scott Martin were second-fastest in the Power Stage and finished fourth overall following a thrilling fight for the final place on the podium with Esapekka Lappi (Hyundai) – finishing just 7.3s away. Takamoto Katsuta and co-driver Aaron Johnston finished seventh overall, only 0.3 seconds away from a place in the top six. TGR-WRT has increased its manufacturers’ championship lead to 57 points.
Akio Toyoda (TGR-WRT Chairman)
“Kalle, Jonne, congratulations on your victory, and three consecutive wins at Rally Estonia!
Two years ago, it was Estonia where Kalle, 20 years old at the time, became the youngest WRC winner. Until then, the youngest winner record was held by Jari-Matti, at 22 years old. And now, 22-year-old Kalle has already won 10 WRC events. I would also like to congratulate him for becoming the youngest double-digit winner. I’m looking forward to offering donuts to him somewhere again.
And of course I am also thankful to Elfyn and Scott, who earned solid points for the team. Takamoto and Aaron entered this event with the third car as a manufacturer crew. I feel sorry that they had to go through electrical issues on Saturday but they still brought the car back home with a consistent run, and the team was able to become stronger thanks to them.
This weekend, I was at Tokyo Dome supporting Toyota’s baseball team, and Koji Sato, our new President, was visiting Estonia. We both spent the weekend fighting together with Toyota athletes and we won both. It became a really nice weekend for us.
The next WRC round is held in our hometown, Jyväskylä, Finland. I asked Jari-Matti to be a driver there so that I will have a good reason to be on site as an alternate Team Principal!
How should I act as an alternate Team Principal? Sato showed me a good example this weekend. He started the day joining the drivers and engineers meeting every early morning and always stayed in the service park until the night service finished. It seems that he kept on communicating with the team members and always fought alongside the team. Jari-Matti as a Team Principal also always comes to the service park early in the morning and he never misses morning greetings to the team members. During Rally Finland, I will follow them, communicate a lot with the team members, and hopefully help the team.
I will head to Finland fully prepared for the team to carry the good momentum from Kenya and Estonia into the next round. We need to win. We will win!”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“Kalle really dominated this rally. To start as first car on the road on Friday and be able to be leading by the end of the day, and then be fastest in every stage on Saturday and Sunday, winning the Power Stage – it’s just total domination. This is probably the strongest rally for him on the calendar, it’s like a home rally to him and the one he loves to drive the most, and he took the absolute maximum from it which is great for his title defence. We also saw a very good fight from Elfyn and he did a strong drive on the Power Stage to be second-fastest, scoring really valuable points for himself but also for the manufacturers’ championship where we have increased our lead. It has been fantastic to have Sato-san with us this weekend and to share the celebrations with him. Now we look forward to the team’s home rally in Finland in two weeks and hope we can win there too.”
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“It is an amazing feeling to achieve our 10th WRC win here in Estonia and to win this rally for the third time in a row. For me it’s a really nice rally and one I have always enjoyed. This weekend was something special, winning all the stages from Saturday morning onwards. I think we showed our speed and what the car can do quite well, so I’m really happy. We did a good job with Jonne, driving at this speed without really having any moments, and pushing all the time but still enjoying the driving, which is not always the case in rallying. I felt happy in the car and I was enjoying the nice stages and the great support we had here. It was also amazing to celebrate with Sato-san just after the stage and on the podium afterwards – he was so happy.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“We were in a pretty intense fight throughout the weekend for the podium places and naturally it’s disappointing not to have made it in the end. We weren’t a million miles away but unfortunately we just fell a bit short. On Friday it took some time to feel comfortable and I think that’s when the majority of the damage was done in terms of our road position for the rest of the rally. Well done to Kalle who was dominant this weekend. It’s hard to be satisfied with our result but we come away with some good points from the Power Stage and from the rally. It’s also a good warm-up for Rally Finland and we’ll work hard over the next week to try and do better there.”
Takamoto Katsuta (Driver car 18)
“There have been some positives and some negatives for me this weekend. It has been good to finish the rally without any mistakes or moments, so it has been quite a clean weekend. But I was lacking speed in many places and that is what I need to improve for the next event. I was struggling a lot in the beginning, and after that the feeling was improving but I still wanted to show more speed and I can’t be happy with my performance. I will try to take the positives, to analyse what we did here and try to improve for Rally Finland. Congratulations to Kalle, Jonne and the whole team for the win.”
PROVISIONAL FINAL CLASSIFICATION, RALLY ESTONIA
1 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) 2h36m03.1s
2 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +52.7s
3 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +59.5s
4 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +1m06.8s
5 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +2m21.1s
6 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Nicolas Gilsoul (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +3m09.9s
7 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +3m10.2s
8 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +6m25.6s
9 Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +9m54.1s
10 Sami Pajari/Enni Mälkönen (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +10m03.8s
(Results as of 14:30 on Sunday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Rally Finland (August 3-6) is the fastest rally on the calendar, run over smooth gravel roads containing many jumps. It’s also a home rally for TGR-WRT, which has its headquarters close to the service park in Jyväskylä.
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