Rovanpera dealt penalty for WRC hybrid boost infringement

Toyota’s Kalle Rovanpera has become the third World Rally Championship driver hit with a time penalty for a hybrid boost infringement at Rally New Zealand.

Rovanpera dealt penalty for WRC hybrid boost infringement
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The championship leader has been handed the same five-second penalty that has been issued to Hyundai duo Ott Tanak and Thierry Neuville for exceeding the 240kJ energy boost permitted when engaging hybrid mode.

As per Tanak and Neuville the offence took place during Thursday’s super special stage held on tarmac in the centre of host city Auckland.

The stewards report confirmed that the hybrid boost Rovanpera used during the stage was 0.16kJ over the prescribed limit.

The penalty doesn’t change the leaderboard with Rovanpera remaining in fourth, but the Finn is now 12.2s of the new rally leader team-mate Elfyn Evans. The Welshman now holds a 4.8s lead over Tanak following the latter’s hybrid boost penalty.

During a stewards hearing held late on Friday night, Toyota technical director Tom Fowler argued that in the regulations the 240kJ limit is not set to a decimal limit and that sensors can read a maximum of 240.4kJ.

A stewards report read: “Mr. Fowler accepted the value measured. However, he argued that the limit set in the table in Bulletin No. 2 is displayed to no decimal places and therefore the sensor reading can be a maximum of 240.4 kJ before exceeding the table value.

"He further explained that the rounding of the sensor value is necessary to convert to the same format as the regulation table. Furthermore, he pointed out that the hybrid unit fitted to car No. 69 had a drift in sensor reading of approximately plus 1.00% compared to Safari Rally Kenya 2022, when the unit was last used.

Kalle Rovanpera, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Kalle Rovanpera, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

“The Stewards consider that the value of the released energy mentioned in the table in Bulletin No. 2 is a maximum value, thus determining the greatest possible value. The Stewards therefore do not accept the first argument of the competitor. In addition, the Stewards also note that it is the competitor's responsibility to ensure that their sensors display reliable results.”

Rally New Zealand continues on Saturday with six more stages comprising a total distance of 88.28km, before a final four stages on Sunday.

Rovanpera can wrap up the 2022 WRC drivers’ world title in New Zealand, with the Finn only needing to outscore Tanak by eight points to become the youngest ever world rally champion.

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