Thu 20 Apr 2023

Rovanperä revs up for Croatia defence with shakedown win

Kalle Rovanperä bagged the fastest time on Thursday’s Croatia Rally shakedown, taking the honours by just eight-tenths of a second from Ott Tänak and Sébastien Ogier.

The reigning FIA World Rally champion posted the benchmark time in his third and final run through the 3.65km Okić asphalt speed test near Zagreb, laying the foundations for what he hopes will be a repeat victory at the 2023 season’s first pure asphalt rally.

Upon completing his opening run Rovanperä was one of several frontrunning drivers to pay tribute to friend and peer Craig Breen, who tragically passed away last week.  

"It will be really difficult," said the Toyota GR Yaris youngster. “I think the most important thing is that everybody is here to drive for Craig. That's the goal for the weekend."

Ott Tänak set the pace on the opening run in a Ford Puma but, despite improving his speed throughout the session, could not keep pace with Rovanperä. Championship leader Ogier, also driving a Toyota, equalled the Estonian’s time on his final pass.

Just six-tenths adrift of the leading trio was Hyundai’s Esapekka Lappi, who headed Yaris man Takamoto Katsuta by half a second. Pierre-Louis Loubet and Thierry Neuville placed sixth and seventh respectively ahead of WRC2 pacesetter Erik Cais, who drives a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2.

Oliver Solberg is not scoring WRC2 points at this rally but came home ninth, while Yohan Rossel completed the top 10.

Elfyn Evans starts the event already on the back foot after his Yaris hit technical trouble on its first run through the stage. The Welshman crawled to the finish with limited power and stopped the car to prevent inflicting further damage.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 8:30:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 9:30:00 AM