Rovanpera focused on NZ fightback after one of his "worst" WRC events

World Rally Championship leader Kalle Rovanpera has vowed to come back stronger in New Zealand after admitting his Acropolis Rally was one of the worst of his career.

Rovanpera focused on NZ fightback after one of his "worst" WRC events
Listen to this article

The Finn faced a second opportunity to become the youngest ever world rally champion if he could outscore Hyundai's Ott Tanak by 18 points in Greece last weekend.

However, Rovanpera found himself more than a minute adrift of the front runners on Friday, as the effects of cleaning the road were much greater than expected.

Coupled with a poor road position, Rovanpera and his Toyota teammates Elfyn Evans, Esapekka Lappi and Takamoto Katsuta all struggled for outright pace from the GR Yaris.

It is understood that set-up struggles can be partly attributed to a difficult pre-event test, where two of the team's drivers ran off the road, while inclement weather meant Toyota had one full test day at its disposal in the correct conditions.

Rovanpera's hopes of a strong points haul were ended on Saturday when he sideswiped a tree, ripping the entire tailgate from his GR Yaris and damaging his rear brakes and suspension. This cost him more than 16 minutes.

The 21-year salvaged four bonus points from the rally-ending powerstage to reduce the damage to his championship lead to 53 points over Tanak, who finished second overall and claimed the five-point bonus.

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: Toyota Racing

"Of course, I have done many good and bad weekends, but this is one of the worst ones," said Rovanpera, who can now wrap up the title in New Zealand if he scores eight points more than Tanak.

"It was a bad weekend for me and a bad weekend for the team also, so we need to improve and be stronger for the next one.

"It has been a long and tough weekend, more difficult than we expected and not what we wanted. At least we were able to get some points in the powerstage.

"We tried to do our best in the powerstage. It wasn't easy, I had to push everywhere including in the rough parts but we managed to get some good points so the situation isn't so bad for the championship. Now we need to concentrate on the next one and come back much stronger."

Toyota's Acropolis Rally weekend was compounded by a fuel pressure issue forcing Lappi out of second spot on Saturday, while Evans retired from fourth on Sunday due to a suspected turbo issue.

It left Katsuta as the top Toyota in sixth overall as the Japanese maintained his run as the only driver to finish every WRC round in the points.

Toyota boss Jari-Matti Latvala says it is important his team learns from the weekend before heading to New Zealand at the end of the month.

"It was a poor weekend but it wasn't catastrophic," said Latvala after witnessing Toyota's manufacturers' title lead reduced to 63 points over Hyundai following the latter's 1-2-3 in Greece.

"We have to remember even though it looks really bad we eventually still scored 18 points plus five on the powerstage for the manufacturers' championship which keeps us in a nice lead.

"But of course we have to learn from this weekend and why things went wrong, and we need to improve for the future.

"It was combination of many things happening but I would rather have everything at one time than having things happen at many different events.

"We can take the learning from it and head to Rally New Zealand with a fresh mind."

Read Also:
shares
comments

Related video

How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy
Previous article

How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy

Next article

Hyundai reviewing 2023 WRC driver line-up as Tanak speculation grows

Hyundai reviewing 2023 WRC driver line-up as Tanak speculation grows
How trailblazer Kalle Rovanpera has ripped up the WRC record book Prime

How trailblazer Kalle Rovanpera has ripped up the WRC record book

At the tender age of 22, Kalle Rovanpera is redefining what’s possible to achieve in rallying and inspiring a new legion of fans as a result. The newly-crowned World Rally Championship title-winner and his peers reflect on his ability and the start of his success in the top tier.

WRC
Nov 26, 2022
How Hyundai and Neuville gatecrashed Toyota's homecoming party Prime

How Hyundai and Neuville gatecrashed Toyota's homecoming party

Thierry Neuville signed off the 2022 World Rally Championship season with his second win of the season in Japan after Toyota rival Elfyn Evans suffered a late puncture. With Sebastien Ogier and Kalle Rovanpera also delayed by punctures and incidents, it opened the door for Neuville and Ott Tanak to record Hyundai's second 1-2 of the season in Toyota's own backyard

WRC
Nov 14, 2022
The message a WRC stalwart sent which its new king couldn’t answer Prime

The message a WRC stalwart sent which its new king couldn’t answer

Sebastien Ogier might be the outgoing World Rally champion, but it didn’t stop him reminding everyone of the skills that made him an eight-time world champion. As victory at Rally Spain led Toyota’s charge to a titles clean sweep, it did pose a question to newly-crowned champion Kalle Rovanpera which he could not answer

WRC
Oct 24, 2022
Motorsport.com gets to grips as a WRC co-driver Prime

Motorsport.com gets to grips as a WRC co-driver

The majority of headlines may focus on the exploits of drivers in the World Rally Championship, but the challenges facing their co-drivers is no less demanding. We got in the passenger seat with Toyota Gazoo Racing to find out just what it takes to succeed

WRC
Oct 6, 2022
How Rally New Zealand encapsulated record-breaking Rovanpera’s WRC title charge Prime

How Rally New Zealand encapsulated record-breaking Rovanpera’s WRC title charge

Kalle Rovanpera’s coronation as the new World Rally Championship king had been a long time coming, only to be postponed by hiccups in Belgium and Greece. But at Rally New Zealand the “Full Send” Finn demonstrated exactly how he's been able to rewrite the rallying record book as he stormed to victory to become the youngest ever world champion

WRC
Oct 3, 2022
How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy Prime

How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy

Thierry Neuville led a maiden Hyundai 1-2-3 in the World Rally Championship, as the previously soft i20 N became a battle-hardened Greek warrior at the Acropolis Rally. But with team orders in play between the winner and Hyundai’s title protagonist Ott Tanak, could the result come back to haunt the team?

WRC
Sep 12, 2022
How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders Prime

How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders

After runaway World Rally Championship leader Kalle Rovanpera made his first major mistake of the season, the chance to take advantage was wide open for the chasing pack. Several of his rivals faltered to grasp the opportunity, but Ott Tanak made no such mistake and demonstrated his class with a third win of the campaign

WRC
Aug 22, 2022
Inside Toyota’s new WRC dream factory where rally conquerers come to life Prime

Inside Toyota’s new WRC dream factory where rally conquerers come to life

Toyota locked out the top four places in the World Rally Championship's recent Safari Rally Kenya in a clear indication of its GR Yaris Rally1 hybrid's pace and durability. Motorsport.com was recently given a tour of the new factory where its cars are designed, tested and built, and it reveals much about the commitment of the Japanese marque to continued WRC success.

WRC
Aug 19, 2022