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WRC Rally Portugal

Rovanpera explains WRC Portugal exit from the lead

World rally champion Kalle Rovanpera has explained the cause of a spectacular roll from the lead that ended his Rally Portugal victory bid.

The Toyota driver started the Saturday morning loop setting a blistering pace that resulted in a stage 10 win to open up a 6.7s lead over team-mate and fellow 2024 part-time driver Sebastien Ogier.

However, Rovanpera’s rally quickly came undone on stage 11 [Montim, 8.69km] when the Finn lost the rear of his GR Yaris and hit a tree, which then pitched the car into a roll. The car eventually came to rest on its side before Rovanpera and co-driver Jonne Halttunen clambered out of the vehicle unharmed.

This was the second time in three rallies this year that Rovanpera has crashed from a leading position after exiting Rally Sweden in February. Rovanpera was victorious in his other 2024 appearance in Kenya in March.

When asked to explain his stage 11 exit, Rovanpera, who will rejoin the rally on Sunday, said: “Sweden was completely my mistake and this one was bit of a confusion with the pacenotes at the previous place [in the stage] and Jonne read the notes wrong.

“But that was not the reason for the crash but on the straight after I was maybe thinking about it a bit and I missed my braking.”

He added “Defintiely the car today felt fine so it would probably have been a better day for us today [than yesterday], so it is shame.”

In the moments after the crash, WRC2 leader Oliver Solberg made a mistake and rolled his Toksport Skoda shortly after passing Rovanpera’s stricken GR Yaris.

The Swede admitted that he was distracted by Rovanpera's incident and it triggered his crash.

“During SS11, we came across Kalle [Rovanpera] and Jonne [Halttunen] off the road and I became distracted, missing the next note. We ran off [the] line and clipped the bank on the outside of the next corner, where we rolled the car,” said Solberg.

"Elliott [Edmondson, co-driver] and I are completely fine, but due to the condition of the car we have decided that we will not continue tomorrow (Sunday)."

Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta became the third high-profile retirement from the day after damaging his GR Yaris’s right-rear suspension following a relatively small impact with a rock in stage 12 [Amarante, 37.24km]

“It was in one of the high-speed sections and I went wide on right corner and there was an immediate left and we hit the bank on the outside and I was not able to turn immediately and hit a rock or wall and I got damage to the right rear suspension,” said Katsuta, who surrendered third position.

“I don’t know exactly what was there and the car is strong enough as we survived the Safari, but for sure this kind of impact was a bit too much.”  

 
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