Kalle Rovanperä has become the youngest ever driver to lead the FIA World Rally Championship standings after finishing in a strong second place on home ground at Arctic Rally Finland, securing the position with the fastest time on the rally-ending Power Stage in his Toyota Yaris WRC.
Twenty-year-old Rovanperä and his co-driver Jonne Halttunen were among the pacesetters from the beginning of the rally, and were holding onto second overall by just 1.8 seconds at the beginning of the final day – a margin they extended by 0.1s in the first of the two passes of the Aittajärvi stage.
In the repeat pass on the Power Stage, Rovanperä achieved the best time by 0.3s, securing second overall by 2.3s – the best result of his FIA World Rally Championship career to-date. With the Power Stage win he also claimed the maximum of five bonus points on offer towards both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ standings, and now leads the championship for the first time in his career by four points over his nearest rival.
With Elfyn Evans finishing in fifth position, the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team continues to lead the manufacturers’ championship with an 11-point advantage. Evans had been fastest in the first stage of the day as he kept the pressure on in the battle for fourth overall, but ultimately missed out by 8.9s.
He is now joint third in the championship together with team-mate Sébastien Ogier, who restarted on Sunday and claimed one additional point for fifth in the Power Stage despite a disadvantageous road position.
TGR WRC Challenge Program driver Takamoto Katsuta gained sixth place on the very last stage in his Yaris WRC, matching the career-best result he achieved on the opening round of the season in Monte Carlo.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“Kalle has produced a very very good performance on this rally, managing to maintain second position on the final day and also winning the Power Stage, scoring good points for the team and for himself. Elfyn tried hard to gain fourth but it wasn’t to be. We are still leading both championships so we can be satisfied, but of course we wanted more. This was a home rally for the team and we were hoping to be able to win here. We seemed to be struggling a little bit with the setup so the drivers were not completely happy with the car all of the time. We were fast on some of the stages but then there were some stages where we were not so competitive and we need to analyse why.”
FINAL CLASSIFICATION, ARCTIC RALLY FINLAND
1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 2h03m49.6s
2 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota Yaris WRC) +17.5s
3 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +19.8s
4 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +52.6s
5 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m01.5s
6 Takamoto Katsuta/Dan Barritt (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m37.8s
7 Oliver Solberg/Seb Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m39.0s
8 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2m09.0s
9 Gus Greensmith/Elliott Edmondson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3m39.4s
10 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5) +6m07.0s
20 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota Yaris WRC) +11m06.2s
Press release TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT