The Finn clinched his first world title at Repco Rally New Zealand on Sunday, scoring his sixth rally win from 11 starts in 2022. With just 60 points on offer from the last two rounds in Spain and Japan, Rovanperä is now unbeatable.
From early this year, Tänak said Finland’s first world title in 20 years – since Marcus Grönholm in 2002 – was almost inevitable.
“They were strong, Kalle was strong,” said the 2019 world champion. “I don’t think they really gave us a chance. We thought we were fighting back a little bit in the middle of the season, but actually they had it under control. I don’t think we were really close to them.
"At the end, they have beaten everybody fair and square, no question at all. Kalle also had really good dance moves, so he seems to be really fit for the night," Tänak joked.
Rovanperä’s form dipped briefly with a crash in Belgium and a costly mistake when his Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 slid wide and hit a tree in Greece. Other than that, he’s been peerless.
Tänak, meanwhile, lagged behind early in the season after hitting trouble in Monte-Carlo and Sweden. Tyre dramas in Portugal and a power steering failure in Kenya were also major setbacks, although he did finish on the podium in every other rally.
Despite the podiums - and despite his strong second half of the season - Tänak has struggled to find a comfortable feeling aboard his Hyundai i20 N, adding that he didn't feel he was able to fight in New Zealand either.
Repco Rally New Zealand 2022: Review
“The only person Kalle was really fighting with was himself,” said Tänak. “And the whole team, they did a good job and they beat everybody this year – but Kalle himself was really strong.
"For me, I mean, it's difficult to be happy when it was kind of a struggle. In the end, we came out with the maximum points we could achieve, and obviously [New Zealand is] a great place to be with amazing roads."