Rovanperä and Solberg explain Portugal crashes

Kalle Rovanperä and Oliver Solberg spoke exclusively to DirtFish about the crashes that took them out of Rally Portugal

WhatsApp Image 2024-05-11 at 12.49.16 PM

Coming over the brow of a medium right-hander at the end of a long straight, it was clear that Kalle Rovanperä’s Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 wouldn’t make it to the exit of the corner. The forest on the outside of the turn beckoned for the reigning world champion.

After blitzing the field on Saturday morning’s opening stage, where he’d gone 0.46 seconds per kilometer faster than anyone else, Montim bit back. Rovanperä slid off into the undergrowth and hit a tree stump, which flipped his car over onto its side, perched against a tree.

His rally was over – but Rovanperä wasn’t exactly sure how he’d ended up there: “To be honest, I don’t even know so much,” he told DirtFish.

“I need to check the onboard and everything because the note, I wouldn’t say it’s too optimistic, it’s quite close to the right one. The only reason I can think of is I just got distracted with the shadows on the straight and didn’t know where I was, so I just braked too late. Quite a simple corner and I just braked too late for some reason.”

It’s easy to think that his blinding speed on the earlier Felgueiras stage meant he was simply pushing too hard. But Rovanperä was quick to point out he’d had very few moments beforehand; this was no case of pushing much harder than necessary.

“It was quite a simple mistake,” added the reigning world champion. “We didn’t have any moments before that. We talked with Jonne [Halttunen, co-driver] that when everything feels good, and the car feels good, the pace like what we did in the morning doesn’t feel too risky. Before that, nothing, just one braking I missed.”

What’s especially unfortunate for Rovanperä is that the car didn’t land on its wheels after going off the road. If it had, he’s convinced he would simply have been able to keep going.

“I think actually the car is completely fine,” said Rovanperä. “If we could get it out, I think it would be drivable. Even though it was quite a fast place the crash looks quite small outside actually, so I think the car is fine.

Kalle wasn’t the only one caught out by Montim. Most of the top drivers made some sort of error. But the biggest of all was Oliver Solberg, the next car through after Rovanperä’s off.

Solberg clipped a bank only a couple of corners beyond Rovanerpä’s off, pitching his Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 into a barrel roll. The timing of that crash, Solberg admitted, was no coincidence.

“I came into the corner and was looking at the car and didn’t listen to the pacenote after,” he confessed. “I just missed the corner slightly, hit the bank and flipped over.”

Despite having a much heavier accident than Rovanperä, there’s hope that Solberg can still restart tomorrow, with Solberg indicating the rollcage did not appear to have sustained any damage in his crash.