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Thu 21 Apr 2022

Rovanperä edges Neuville in close Croatia warm-up

Kalle Rovanperä topped a tight Croatia Rally shakedown on Thursday morning by just a tenth of a second from Thierry Neuville.

Pos Driver Car Time
1. Kalle ROVANPERÄ Toyota GR Yaris  1min 52.5sec
2. Thierry Neuville Hyundai i20 N +0.1sec
3. Ott TÄNAK Hyundai i20 N +0.8sec
4=. Esapekka LAPPI Toyota GR Yaris  +1.3sec
5. Craig BREEN Ford Puma +1.3sec
6 Gus GREENSMITH Ford Puma +2.3sec
6=. Oliver SOLBERG Hyundai i20 N +2.3sec
8. Pierre-Louis LOUBET Ford Puma +2.4sec
9. Adrien FOURMAUX Ford Puma +3.4sec
10. Takamoto KATSUTA Toyota GR Yaris  +4.0sec

 

The FIA World Rally Championship leader posted the benchmark time in his third and final run through the 3.65km Okić asphalt speed test near Zagreb in Toyota Gazoo Racing’s GR Yaris.

It provided a boost for the 21-year-old Finn, who lacks experience of the roads after crashing out of Croatia’s WRC debut last year after just a handful of kilometres.

“The feeling already in the first pass was really good,” he enthused. “I’m more confident on this surface than I was going to Monte-Carlo, for sure. We tested a few things, mainly just confirming some set-ups for the weather if we’re going to have rain, just to try a bit for the suspension.”

Neuville came within an ace of topping the charts on his fourth and final run in another i20 N, leaping ahead of team-mate Tänak by 0.7sec.

Esapekka Lappi, driving a GR Yaris, tied for fourth with the Ford Puma of Craig Breen a further half second back. Gus Greensmith’s Puma and the third i20 N of Oliver Solberg could not be split in sixth. Solberg missed a junction and almost spun during his opening run.

Rain is forecast for Friday’s opening leg to add to the challenge facing Rovanperä, whose preparations were enhanced by additional time on the tricky asphalt at Pirelli’s in-season tyre development test earlier this month.

“Even though the tyres were not the same ones we use now, it helped to have more kilometres on these roads,” he added. “I wouldn’t say it is really a big concern but it’s going to be different for us. It’s not going to be so easy as for the others, but we always try to catch up on the experience.”

Ott Tänak set the pace on the opening run in a Hyundai i20 N and bettered that time on his second pass before Rovanperä’s fastest run of the day.

• Full coverage from the Croatia Rally will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park

The leading times were:

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