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Fri 10 Jun 2022

Lindström on Rovanperä: We need to be realistic

Toyota Gazoo Racing sporting director Kaj Lindström has praised Kalle Rovanperä’s Rally Italia Sardegna performance.

Lindström took on the temporary role of team boss for the Italian fixture, with principal Jari-Matti Latvala away competing at the Fuji 24-Hour Endurance Race in Japan alongside Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda. 

It was a challenging weekend for the leading manufacturer team and the first time that none of their cars ended on the podium since Rally Turkey in 2019. 

Rovanperä was the highest-finishing Toyota driver, bringing his GR Yaris home in fifth after opening the loose gravel roads on Friday. In doing so, the Finn extended his championship lead to a hefty 55 points. 

Lindström believes the youngster did the best job possible given the circumstances. 

“I think we need to be realistic,” he told WRC.com. “I mean, Kalle’s good - he’s talented and fast - but he’s not a superhuman.

“With his starting position, he started first on the road and in this rally, unfortunately, you're suffering from there. 

“After that, I think he did a very good job of maintaining his position, meaning that he kept Thierry [Neuville] behind. All in all, he finished fifth here and extended his lead to 55 points, so I think it was incredibly good.

“Even though Kalle is so young, he is very mature in his mind. He understands that he takes what he can get, but not by doing anything silly,” he added.

Lindström also offered his sympathy to Esapekka Lappi, who retired from the lead on Saturday morning after going off the road following a heavy compression. 

“You’re never happy when this kind of thing happens and somebody goes off [the road] considering the situation at that moment,” he explained. 

“Elfyn [Evans] had already retired and Esapekka was the top player at that moment, so he had to go for it. 

"Looking into [the crash], it wasn't something that he was doing crazy fast. When you push and you actually try to win rallies, things can happen. This time it was just an unlucky thing.”