Rovanperä rues missed opportunity

Kalle Rovanperä says he was disappointed to finish fourth in the WRC 2 category at Neste Rally Finland last weekend, after broken suspension robbed him of a likely victory.

The 17-year-old was in fine form as he made his debut on his home WRC event. He appeared on course for victory in his Skoda Motorsport Fabia R5 as he took 12 stage wins and opened up a lead of 54.0sec by the end of stage 17 on Saturday.

However, his good work was undone on stage 18 – Päijälä 2 – when he drove across deep ruts and broke his car’s front-left suspension.

The impact sent the strut and spring through the bonnet. The youngster was forced to carry out some roadside repairs to save his rally and he used ratchet straps, cable ties and a spare steering arm to put together a temporary fix before limping back to service.

A determined fightback allowed Rovanperä to close on third-placed Gus Greensmith, but the youngster missed out on a podium place by 1.9sec. Rovanperä admitted he was more upset by the loss of a potential first WRC 2 category victory, rather than a consolation podium place.

“It wasn’t that frustrating to finish so close to the podium places. For me, third place is not much better than fourth at this point. I don’t really care that much,” he explained.

“It is a big disappointment after Saturday because it was going so well, and we tried to be so careful. It happens.”

Despite throwing away a potential win for the second consecutive event – he crashed out of the lead at April’s YPF Rally Argentina – Rovanperä told he could take confidence from his Rally Finland experience.

He said: “It was my first time competing in Jyväskylä and I was faster than everybody almost every time, so for me it is a good feeling to have. But still, the weekend was not perfect if you take it all together.”


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