Wed 28 Sep 2022

Rovanperä fastest in New Zealand warm-up

Kalle Rovanperä made the perfect start to what could potentially be a life-changing week by winning Thursday morning’s shakedown at Repco Rally New Zealand.

Pos Driver Car Time
1. Kalle ROVANPERÄ Toyota GR Yaris 1min 27.7sec
2. Thierry NEUVILLE Hyundai i20 N +0.1sec
3. Oliver SOLBERG Hyundai i20 N +0.1sec
4. Ott TÄNAK Hyundai i20 N +0.2sec
5. Sébastien OGIER Toyota GR Yaris +0.5sec
6. Elfyn EVANS Toyota GR Yaris +0.8sec
7. Gus GREENSMITH Ford Puma +0.8sec
8. Craig BREEN Ford Puma +1.5sec
9. Takamoto KATSUTA Toyota GR Yaris +1.5sec
10. Hayden PADDON Hyundai i20 N Rally2 +7.6sec

• Full coverage from Repco Rally New Zealand 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 Toyota GR Yaris star is in a position to seal the FIA World Rally Championship title at this 11th round and wasted no time in making his intentions known. 

Storming to the benchmark time on his third and final pass of the snappy 3.54km Inland Road warm-up, Rovanperä edged Hyundai i20 N duo Thierry Neuville and Oliver Solberg - who both set identical times - by just one-tenth of a second.

In order to become the youngest-ever champion WRC this week, the Finn needs to outscore Ott Tänak by eight points come Sunday - or just seven, providing he also wins the rally. There was little to split the pair on shakedown, with Tänak bringing his Hyundai machine home just 0.2sec off the pace in fourth.

As points leader, Rovanperä will have to open the road during Friday’s opening leg in the Whaanga Coast and on Waikato region roads near Te Akau. With rain forecast for the entirety of this four-day fixture, the 21-year-old is hoping the weather can play to his advantage and reduce the road cleaning effect

"It was all good,” he smiled. “The feeling is quite nice, but it will be tricky opening the road. 

“Even now in the shakedown it was hard with the loose gravel. It’s going to be a challenge - like always."

Toyota returnee Sébastien Ogier ended 0.3sec back from Tänak ahead of team-mate Elfyn Evans, who rounded out the top-six, with M-Sport Ford Puma pairing Gus Greensmith and Craig Breen placing seventh and eighth respectively. 

Breen set the pace on the opening pass but slipped down the order, eventually stopping the clock with the same time as Takamoto Katsuta. Home hero Hayden Paddon - driving a WRC2-specification Hyundai - completed the leaderboard.

The leading times were:

Latvia
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Italy
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Hungary
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM