July 1, 2024

Supersub Rovanpera claims remarkable win for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing

By sarah

TOKYO, July 1, 2024 – (JCN Newswire via SeaPRwire.com) – Kalle Rovanperä has taken a remarkable victory after his late call-up to Rally Poland, leading a TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team one-two finish ahead of Elfyn Evans.

Having never competed there previously, Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen were not originally due to include Poland’s first FIA World Rally Championship round since 2017 on their partial programme this season. That was until Tuesday this week when they received the call to stand in for their team-mates Sébastien Ogier and Vincent Landais, who were unable to take part after they were unfortunately involved in a road traffic collision during reconnaissance.

Without any pre-event test or the other preparation typically carried out by WRC crews before an event, the reigning world champions undertook an intense recce schedule during Wednesday and Thursday to make pacenotes for the fast gravel stages, while three runs in shakedown were their only chance to get up to speed in the GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID before the start.

They were fourth overall after a challenging first full loop of stages on Friday morning, but Rovanperä soon started to bely his lack of preparation and show the speed he’s famed for on flat-out gravel roads. He was just 1.8 seconds from the lead at the end of Friday, then won Saturday’s first two tests to take over at the top of the leaderboard.

Quickest in six out of seven stages across the longest day of the rally, Rovanperä took an advantage of 9.4s into Sunday’s final day over Andreas Mikkelsen (Hyundai), who then dropped away after incurring damage while trying to keep the pressure on. Third-fastest in the rally-ending Power Stage, he took victory by 28.3s: the 13th and perhaps most impressive WRC victory yet for the driver of car #69 on what was his 69th start in the series.

Evans and co-driver Scott Martin were also firmly in the fight for the win for much of the weekend with a strong performance. They were only 0.4s behind their team-mates on Saturday lunchtime, before suffering a tyre issue in the first stage of the afternoon loop that cost them several seconds and dropped them to third place. Evans reclaimed second on Sunday morning as he pushed to maximise their Sunday score, though he would sustain a tyre deflation in the Power Stage that left him seventh-quickest there and fourth in the Super Sunday classification. Nonetheless, he reduces the gap to the leader of the drivers’ championship to 15 points.

On his first rally in Poland, Takamoto Katsuta built his confidence and feeling with the car at the start of three consecutive events on fast gravel. He set strong times already on Friday afternoon, before experiencing tough conditions at the front of the road order and ultimately finishing eighth overall.

In the manufacturers’ championship, TGR-WRT took the most points from the weekend, moving to within 10 points of the lead.

The GR Yaris Rally2 continues to perform strongly in its debut season, taking a third consecutive WRC2 victory in Poland in the hands of Sami Pajari and Enni Mälkönen, who scored their second successive win in their Printsport-run car.

Quotes:

Akio Toyoda (TGR-WRT Chairman)

“Due to a traffic accident during the reconnaissance, the crew of car #17, Ogier and Landais, were suddenly forced to withdraw from this rally. I would like to inform once again that all those involved in the accident including Ogier and Landais have already been discharged from the hospital. I deeply apologize to all the fans who were looking forward to watching their performance.This was the first event in Poland since 2017 when Toyota came back to WRC. I was really looking forward to seeing Seb drive on the Polish roads in a Toyota car, so the news of their withdrawal was truly disappointing. I hope that they will show us an exciting performance on a different road in the near future.On the other hand, I sincerely appreciate Kalle and Jonne for accepting the team’s sudden request and driving with the strong intention of supporting the team. Jari-Matti told them that the team was not asking them to win and just wanted them to help us in any way possible, but they ended up winning. They surprised us by achieving such a great result, doing the maximum preparation possible in a very short amount of time. Thank you, Kalle and Jonne for this delightful surprise! I believe that the sudden switch from car #17 to #69 was not an easy task, so I am also grateful to the team members who made it happen.Lastly, I am really thankful to Elfyn and Scott for securing the valuable second place! Thanks to them, TGR was able to achieve a one-two finish. I believe that achieving a one-two finish in this rally, which marks the halfway point of the season, is very meaningful towards the manufacturers’ title. And it must have been a meaningful achievement for Elfyn and Scott as well. They have been strong in our home rallies, so I am expecting their strong performance in the second half of the season, which includes our home rallies in Finland and Japan! The team will continue to fight together in the second half of the season.”

Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)

“It’s incredible that Kalle and Jonne have been able to win this rally. When I called Kalle on Tuesday afternoon and asked him to drive here in Poland, I told him that I was not expecting him to win. I knew that his natural driving could at least get him inside the top five, which would still help us for the championship. I know it wasn’t the nicest way for a crew to start a rally with no preparation, so thanks to them for thinking about the team and doing everything to support and bringing us lots of points. Thanks also to Elfyn and Scott, who were also doing what they could to support Kalle and Jonne this weekend, and a 1-2 result could hardly be better. Elfyn was unfortunate not to score more points for the championship, but altogether it’s a positive result for us.”

Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)

“It has been an amazing week and quite a tough week: we have been working hard and I feel quite tired now! With the limited preparation we had, it was not so easy on this kind of fast rally where you need to keep pushing. I think we did everything we could, working all the time with the tight schedule that we had and keeping to our plan on the stages, and it all paid off in the end. Sunday was still an important day with many kilometres and technical stages. We tried to keep the pace we had yesterday, be safe enough to bring home the win but also grab some more points. At the finish we managed to bring quite a lot of points for the team, which was the aim for us when we got the call from the team on Tuesday, so I think it was a good idea to come!”

Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)

“At the end of the rally our overall position is good. The Sunday points are almost just as important and we tried to get as many as we could today. It was all going OK, but unfortunately we had an issue in the Power Stage with a puncture: there was a rock on the line and there was not a lot I could do. We only lost a few seconds, but with this points system a small issue like that can penalise you a lot, so it was disappointing to finish the rally this way. Our speed this weekend was not bad: Friday was good with the road position we had and Saturday was also going well until the tyre issue. It’s definitely the case that the feeling in the car is much better than in the previous rallies. We need to carry that forward, build on what we learned here and look to do a good job in Latvia.”

Takamoto Katsuta (Driver car 18)

“Congratulations Kalle, Jonne and the whole team for this result. For me, it has been a difficult rally. I was struggling a lot on Friday morning and this cost me afterwards, with a more difficult starting position for Saturday and Sunday. It was hard to do much on this final day and get the good result we wanted for the team. At the same time, I was learning a lot about how to drive well in this kind of condition. We had some good sections and some good feelings and we need to bring that to the next rally in Latvia, and also improve the things that were not so good so that we can be better there.”

PROVISIONAL FINAL CLASSIFICATION, RALLY POLAND
1 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) 2h33m07.6s
2 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +28.3s
3 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +42.7s
4 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +1m10.8s
5 Mārtiņš Sesks/Renārs Francis (Ford Puma Rally1) +1m47.0s
6 Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +2m16.6s
7 Grégoire Munster/Louis Louka (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +2m18.0s
8 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +2m26.7s
9 Sami Pajari/Enni Mälkönen (Toyota GR Yaris Rally2) +7m50.7s
10 Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +8m12.7s(Results as of 16:30 on Sunday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)

2024 FIA World Rally Championship for drivers after round 7:1 Thierry Neuville 136 points2 Elfyn Evans 1213 Ott Tänak 1154 Sébastien Ogier 925 Adrien Fourmaux 916 Kalle Rovanperä 637 Takamoto Katsuta 588 Andreas Mikkelsen 299 Dani Sordo 2710 Esapekka Lappi 23

2024 FIA World Rally Championship for manufacturers after round 7:1 Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team 311 points2 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team 3013 M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 156

What’s next?

Rally Latvia (July 18-21) is a brand-new event for the WRC, featuring more high-speed gravel roads. While the service park is located in the southern coastal city of Liepāja, the rally will begin from the capital city Riga.

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