Thu 03 Feb 2022

Sweden holds no fears for road opener Rovanperä

Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Kalle Rovanperä says he’s not worried about running first on the road at this month’s Rally Sweden (24 - 27 February).

The young Finn finished fourth on the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo. Combined with maximum bonus points from a Wolf Power Stage win, it placed him third in the series standings behind Sébastiens Loeb and Ogier.

With neither Frenchman competing on the FIA World Rally Championship’s only pure winter fixture in Umeå, it falls to Rovanperä to open the road and potentially plough a line through the snow and ice.

“It can be tricky to be first [in Sweden],” he said, “but we will do our best. For sure, the most important thing is to have the points in the bag and to come from Monte-Carlo, that was nice.”

Rovanperä had a torrid start in the French Alps and languished 11th overall, behind WRC2 leader Eric Camilli, after the opening night.

Supported by engineer Taavi Ellermaa, Rovanperä made big changes to his GR Yaris Rally1 to improve the set-up. He was still a lowly ninth after the second day, but everything clicked into place in the penultimate leg as he charged to fourth with two stage wins.

“We were in big, big struggles,” he admitted. “But finally we could make the car a lot better for me and then I could start to adapt to it much better.

“What did we do? We did everything! The car was completely different to when we started and we did many, many changes. It was really nice to see and big thanks to my engineer for pushing with me with the car and trying to find all the new things.

“Finally, in Monte it was a good weekend and we find ourselves in this nice position to lead the championship. Let’s see what we can do with the next rallies. We just need to work really hard in the test and be more ready at the beginning of the rallies.”

Rovanperä will hope for better fortune than when he last opened the roads on the first day of a WRC event. Topping the championship after round two last season, he crashed in the opening stage of the following Croatia Rally and retired from the event.

Video: Rallye Monte-Carlo best of action
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