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WRC Rally Poland

The big challenge facing Rovanpera after going from jet ski to WRC Rally Poland

Two-time world rally champion Kalle Rovanpera has made a last-minute trip to replace fellow Toyota part-time driver Sebastien Ogier on Rally Poland

Kalle Rovanperä, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Kalle Rovanperä, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Kalle Rovanpera expects to face a “big challenge” to prepare for Rally Poland after receiving a last-minute call up to replace Sebastien Ogier while he was repairing his jet ski.

Toyota has drafted in Rovanpera and co-driver Jonne Halttunen to pilot the team’s third GR Yaris in Poland, which returns to the World Rally Championship calendar for the first time since 2017 this week, after Ogier and Vincent Landais were involved in a road traffic accident while preparing pacenotes and withdrew from the event.

Double world champion Rovanpera, contesting a partial schedule of events this year, was preparing to go out on the lake on his jet ski when he was asked by the team to come to Poland after Toyota sought permission from the FIA to field the Finnish pair.

It has since been confirmed that all involved in the accident have undergone scans which showed no signs of serious injury. Landais was discharged from hospital yesterday, while Ogier remained under medical observation overnight before being released today.

“It was strange day yesterday, but first of all it was good to hear by midday that Seb and Vincent were fine which is the main thing,” said Rovanpera.

“Then I got the call from Kaj [Lindstrom, Toyota sporting director] while I was changing some spark plugs on my jet ski before going on the lake, then he called, and I knew what it was about.

“The team made the call for us to come here and of course myself and Jonne were not prepared at all, so it was not an easy decision to come here.

“But of course we want to help the team as much as we can with the team points; they are crucial this year, so hopefully we can do that.”

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

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

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Rovanpera jumped on plane to Poland last night to be able take part in today’s recce, which will see him navigate through all of the rally’s stages in little over 24 hours before the event begins on Thursday night.

When asked about the enormity of the challenge to prepare for a rally in such a short space of time, he added: “It is quite a big challenge.

“We basically need to do a whole rally almost in one day and, of course, not watching any videos before will be quite a tough evening and tomorrow trying to learn what we can. It will not be easy with this schedule.

“It is really difficult to know what can be possible [this weekend], as we haven’t had a test in the car before this rally.

“We need to see at the shakedown if we are in a correct way.

“It depends how good we can do the recce and stuff.

“Normally in a rally like this I would like to fight for the win, but maybe this weekend it is not so easy to do.

“Of course we will try to do our best and bring some good points for the team.”

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