The 20-year-old Finn finished Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox 17.5sec behind Ott Tänak. Maximum points in the closing Wolf Power Stage lifted him into a four-point championship lead over Thierry Neuville.
While the Toyota Gazoo Racing pilot was pleased to be making history, he was frustrated not to be able to challenge Tänak.
“I have to be happy with leading the championship,” he said. “Of course, this is a good feeling. But I couldn’t be fully happy with the weekend. I couldn’t find a nice balance with the car and it’s always quite difficult to push hard when you are having understeer from the car.”
Video: Arctic Rally Finland - best of action
Just because it was difficult to push didn’t stop Rovanperä from exploring the limits of his Yaris.
“There was only one mistake on the first stage,” he said, “and I’m happy for that because we were pushing all of the time and when you are this close to the limit, it’s easy to make a mistake.”
After making a set-up change on Friday night, Rovanperä felt more confident with his Yaris but it required a big charge through the final stage to hold off a determined Neuville.
“I have been not perfect with the car in many places and I can see that I’m losing time in some places. So, I need to push a lot to gain back in some other places,” he explained.
“There was a big risk in the last one. For sure, I tried to not take the last risk of course, because we need to take the points for the team also. I didn’t want to end the rally there, but I needed to push,” he explained.
Just 12 points separate the top five drivers in the championship following the WRC’s two winter rounds.