Rovanperä wins like a champion in Poland

30 junho 2024

Called in at the last minute to replace Sébastien Ogier in the ORLEN Rally Poland, Kalle Rovanperä wasted no time in showing why he is the reigning two-time World Rally Champion. The Finn returned to winning form in the WRC, with Elfyn Evans completing a Toyota one-two on the fast Polish stages, and Adrien Fourmaux (M-Sport Ford) rounding out the podium.

Kalle Rovanperä was changing the spark plugs on his jet ski by a lake in Finland when he received a call from Kaj Lindstrom, Sporting Director of Toyota Gazoo Racing. Just hours earlier, Sébastien Ogier and Vincent Landais had been involved in a serious accident during reconnaissance for Rally Poland, colliding with a road car and resulting in injuries for the eight-time World Champion. After a hospital visit, Ogier returned to France with a neck brace, while Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen flew to Poland less than 48 hours before the start of the rally.

Despite the minimal preparation and the reconnaissance done in a 'time trial' mode, Rovanperä and Halttunen won the 80th edition of the ORLEN Rally Poland, marking the pair's 13th victory in the premier class of the WRC and their second win this year, following their triumph in the Safari Rally.

Andreas Mikkelsen finished the penultimate stage just 9.4 seconds behind Rovanperä, but the Norwegian Hyundai Shell Mobis driver suffered a puncture on the first stage on Sunday, dropping him to sixth place overall. Elfyn Evans took advantage and moved up to second, completing the Toyota one-two and gaining points on Thierry Neuville in the championship, as the Belgian could not finish higher than fourth despite winning the Power Stage. Adrien Fourmaux secured his third podium of the season in the M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid, while Latvian Martins Sesks drove a non-hybrid Puma Rally1 to fifth overall.

With these results, Neuville now holds a 15-point lead over Evans in the World Championship standings with six rounds remaining. Ott Tänak, who retired in Poland after hitting a deer and then re-entered under Super Rally rules, is now 21 points behind his teammate.

Young Sami Pajari (Toyota), soon to make his debut in the premier class, won the WRC2 event, while Diego Domínguez (Ford) secured another victory in WRC3.

The eighth round of the WRC is the Rally Latvia, taking place from July 18 to 21.

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