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Fri 14 Jul 2023

Rally Rewind: Estonia 2022

The speed is about to be well and truly cranked up as Rally Estonia (20 - 23 July) hosts round eight of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship season. With this year’s event just around the corner, we look back on a memorable 2022 edition.

1. Rovanperä does it again
Twelve months prior, Kalle Rovanperä had become the WRC’s youngest rally winner with victory in Estonia. His repeat triumph in 2022 moved him a step closer to becoming the youngest champion in the series’ 50-year history.

The Finn finished the four-day gravel road fixture more than a minute clear of Toyota GR Yaris team-mate Elfyn Evans to stretch his points lead to 83 after seven of 13 rounds.

Evans dominated initially but Rovanperä grabbed the lead in Friday’s final rain-soaked speed test. After fine-tuning his car’s set-up on Saturday morning, he reeled off seven consecutive fastest times to distance the Welshman, who virtually conceded defeat on Saturday night, and more than double his advantage.

2. Kalle’s Wolf Power Stage mastery
There are some moments in our sport that are simply jaw-dropping, occasions that prompt the question in the immediate aftermath: ‘Did that actually happen?’. Sunday's Wolf Power Stage was another one of those mouth wide-open moments.

Kalle Rovanperä had just completed the closing Kambja test an inconceivable 22.4sec up on Evans - in a matter of just 15.95km. Granted the heavy rain had stopped and conditions were easing. But the four-minute difference in start times between the two colleagues did not equate to a 22.4sec improvement.

And that was no slight on Evans. In a stage where drivers were fighting for bonus points, Kalle was even quicker than Esapekka Lappi, Ott Tänak and anyone else you care to mention.

3. Tänak tested
Ott Tänak’s patience was tested as he once again missed out on the home victory he so badly wanted, settling for third overall on a weekend which was anything but smooth.

The Estonian’s frustrations began almost immediately when the Hyundai i20 N he was driving at the time stuck in gear during Thursday’s curtain-raising super special stage. A 10-second penalty coupled with a misted-up windscreen compounded his woes on Friday, and he completed the Wolf Power Stage without rear brakes.

“There are many fundamental things that didn't go right [during the car's development] and now we are having to progress them as we go,” he said at the time.

4. Record-breaking Virves
Tänak may have been prevented from delivering an Estonian victory but young protégé Robert Virves gave the local fans plenty to smile about by breaking records in the FIA Junior WRC category. He took 17 fastest times, bettering the previous benchmark of 16 which was set by none other than Sébastien Ogier in 2008.

Virves undeniably had the speed to win but was hampered by damaged suspension on the opening day. He clawed back over one minute and eventually settled for second behind Sami Pajari.

5. Unlucky Loubet
Pierre-Louis Loubet’s fourth visit to Rally Estonia was one to forget. The Frenchman dropped down the order after rolling his M-Sport Ford Puma early in the event, but things went from bad to worse when he clipped a rock which caused terminal suspension damage in Sunday’s opener.

Rally Estonia 2023: Everything you need to know