Monday | 03 May 2021

Latvala waves away gloom after Kalle’s Croatia crash

Toyota Gazoo Racing team principal Jari-Matti Latvala has found a silver-lining to an otherwise cloudy Croatia Rally outing for Kalle Rovanperä.

Rovanperä crashed in the opening stage of the Zagreb-based asphalt event, ending his first ever spell as the leader of the FIA World Rally Championship drivers’ standings.

A no-score – after the car was too badly damaged to offer the Finn a shot at some Wolf Power Stage points – dropped him to fifth, 22 points behind team-mate and series leader Sébastien Ogier.

Fifth in the championship also means fifth on the road for the next round, the maiden gravel fixture of the season at Vodafone Rally de Portugal (20 - 23 May). 

“That’s the good side from this,” said Latvala. “He will have a nice road position when we are going to Portugal and for the gravel rallies which are following.”

After Vodafone Rally de Portugal, road position gets even more important as the series lands on the Italian island of Sardinia for round five. 

The Olbia-based Rally Italia Sardegna (3 - 6 June) is always one of the series’ toughest rounds for drivers near the front of the start order, who sweep the plentiful loose gravel aside to leave a cleaner line and more grip for those following.

Latvala has no concerns about the speed of his young driver

“Kalle has the speed,” said Latvala, “we know that and we are seeing that. What he doesn’t have so much of is experience and time in the World Rally Car. He was probably a bit too fast for the level of experience he has had in these conditions. But still, I think he paid a big price for that in Croatia.

“But, you know this is rallying. For the team, we are really happy with the result from the event and now we move forwards to the next one.”

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