Mon 18 Jul 2022

Latvala on Rovanperä: ‘He is extraordinary’

Recognised as one of the FIA World Rally Championship’s most loquacious people, Toyota Gazoo Racing team principal Jari-Matti Latvala is lost for words when trying to describe Kalle Rovanperä’s performances this season.

The 21-year-old Finn won his fifth rally in six starts at Rally Estonia on Sunday. That latest victory moves him 83 points clear at the top of the table, with six events left to run.

Asked for his thoughts on Rovanperä’s win, Latvala said: “I don’t know what to say. We talked already about this and I think now there are no longer the words to say what Kalle can do. He keeps on surprising us. He is extraordinary.”

On the roads around Tartu, it was Rovanperä’s ability to drive through changeable and challenging conditions that further impressed Latvala.

“When the rain came, he was on another planet,” added the older of the two Finns.

“Look at the [Wolf] Power Stage. The conditions were complicated. I thought that maybe Kalle is going to go for it, but he won’t be able to be much faster and then he did the first split and then I thought I won’t say anything again ever. I don’t know how often the Power Stage is won by over 20 seconds.

“OK, the conditions were very special and the conditions were getting better, improving. Still, I can’t say that there’s many drivers that would take these risks leading a rally, Kalle was up for it.”

Latvala’s team followed its hugely impressive Safari Rally Kenya 1-2-3-4 result with first and second place in Estonia as early leader Elfyn Evans followed Rovanperä home.

“This has been another really strong rally for us,” said Latvala.

“I’m really impressed with all of the guys. Elfyn drove really well again and Esapekka [Lappi] was coming back after missing the Safari and Taka [Katsuta] was bringing the pace after he crashed in shakedown – it’s not always easy to bounce back from something like that.

“Having all of the guys in the points on the Power Stage was something special for us.”

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