The Finn Kalle Rovanperä (photo below) has been seen for a while as one of the most promising new rally talents and perhaps even a world champion in the making. He also continues a tradition of many Finnish victories and follows in the footsteps of his father Harri, who won the 2001 rally of Sweden with a Peugeot 206. Son Kalle, as a Toyota factory driver, already made several times last and this season. strong impression, but until recently he was still a little short for the victory. Or did he make too many almost unavoidable rookie mistakes.
However, taking advantage of an ideal starting position on Friday, the youngest Rovanperä managed to finish the job in Esland this weekend. Home driver and top favorite Ott temporarily disappeared from the rally after a mistake and especially three flat tires on that opening day, while his Hyundai teammate Neuville immediately lost a lot of time because of broken rubber.
The Belgian managed to settle ahead of Sebastien Ogier in the ranking and started the final day in third place. Behind that almost unapproachable looking Rovanperä and Neuville’s occasional teammate Graig Breen, who only rides part of the championship. Neuville managed to catch up with a few fastest times, but a technical defect just before the penultimate stage made him arrive a little too late at a checkpoint. And that resulted in a 10-second penalty for the clearly angry Belgian.
Neuville was second fastest in the final Powerstage, behind Tänak and especially ahead of Ogier. With which he did “catch up” an extra point for the title fight. After the arrival it was expected (or at least speculated) that the Hyundai team management, which Belgian Alain Penasse was part of for the last time in Estonia, would allow Breen to incur some penalty time. With the intention of course to give Neuville second place. But that didn’t happen in the end. With five rallies to drive, the Belgian is still a good 52 points behind Ogier. He has already won four times this year and has 148 points, Neuville has 96. Second in the World Cup standings is still Elfyn Evans, who finished only fifth in Estonia, with 111 points.
The top 6
1. Kalle Rovanpera (Toyota Yaris)
2. Craig Breen (Hyundai i20) at 59.9
3. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20) at 1:12.4
4. Sébastien Ogier (Toyota Yaris) at 1:24.0
5. Elfyn Evans (Toyota Yaris) at 2:07.1
6. Teemu Suninen (Ford Fiesta) at 7:07.3
The next race is that of Ypres in our own Belgium from 13 to 15 August, Neuville will of course leave there as the big favourite. If the mechanics don’t fail…