TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team driver Kalle Rovanperä has added to his lead in the FIA World Rally Championship with a clever drive to the podium and a Power Stage victory on a tricky Rally Italia Sardegna.
Faced with sweeping loose gravel roads on Friday while running first on the road, Rovanperä ran as low as eighth overall before a characteristically strong drive in the rain to win the 50-kilometre Monte Lerno stage lifted he and co-driver Jonne Halttunen to fourth at the end of the day.
He was then one of only a few drivers to avoid trouble on an eventful Saturday in more wet weather conditions, gaining third overall while also having to manage the limited number of softer compound tyres made available on what is normally a hot and abrasive rally.
Able to conserve rubber through Sunday’s opening tests, Rovanperä then produced a typically attacking drive on a soaking rally-ending Power Stage, setting the best time by 4.7 seconds. Taking the maximum five bonus points to add to his third place overall means he increases his lead in the standings to 25 points.
Elfyn Evans ensured there were two GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID cars in the top four at the finish, recovering strong points together with co-driver Scott Martin after losing time on Saturday morning with damage from a deep watersplash. He set the fourth-best time in the Power Stage, claiming additional points for the manufacturers’ championship which TGR-WRT continues to lead by 23 points.
Sébastien Ogier was leading the rally with a strong drive before a series of unfortunate events on Saturday afternoon that culminated in him sliding off the muddy road in SS14. He returned to action on Sunday and took fifth in the Power Stage.
Takamoto Katsuta also restarted on Sunday morning in his TGR WRC Challenge Program-supported entry and resumed the good pace he showed on Friday, adding his second stage win of the weekend in the penultimate test and coming third in the Power Stage.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“This rally last year was very difficult for the team in terms of our performance, but we came here this year and were looking much stronger and really fighting for the victory. There were many challenges with a lot of rain and slippery conditions which brought quite a bit of drama and unfortunately the weekend didn’t turn out to be as good for us as it maybe could have been. But today in the Power Stage we saw an excellent performance from Kalle to take the win there as well as third place in the rally, which is giving him more nice points for the championship. It’s good too that Elfyn was also able to secure fourth to get some important points for the team, and now we will look forward to the next event in Kenya.”
PROVISIONAL FINAL CLASSIFICATION, RALLY ITALIA SARDEGNA
1 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) 3h40m01.4s
2 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +33.0s
3 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +1m55.3s
4 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +5m20.5s
5 Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +9m33.3s
6 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Hyundai i20 Rally2) +11m48.9s
7 Kajetan Kajetanowicz/Maciej Szczepaniak (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +12m46.1s
8 Yohan Rossel/Arnaud Dunand (Citroën C3 Rally2) +12m53.5s
9 Miko Marczyk/Szymon Gospodarczyk (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +15m33.8s
10 Erik Cais/Petr Těšínský (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +16m49.4s
14 Sébastien Ogier/Vincent Landais (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +19m50.4s
(Results as of 16:30 on Sunday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
The legendary Safari Rally Kenya (June 22-25) is the only African round of the championship. Since returning to the championship in 2021, it continues to provide gruelling conditions on rough and rocky roads as well as high speeds across open plains.
Press release Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT