Rovanperä warms up with Arctic win

Toyota's new WRC star wins on Yaris debut, as Bottas slips up on rally return

Kalle Rovanperä Arctic Lapland Rally 2020

Kalle Rovanperä completed a successful warm-up for his World Rally Championship season with Toyota by winning the Arctic Lapland Rally, with Formula 1 star Valtteri Bottas among his competitors.

The event was Rovanperä’s first fully-fledged rally in a World Rally Car, and his first competitive appearance in the Yaris WRC.

Against largely R5 class opposition, the 19-year-old had little trouble reeling off victory.

His only scare came when he and co-driver Jonne Halttunen had to stop on stage three to remove a cover accidentally left on the car that was causing the engine to overheat.

That dropped Rovanperä to fourth temporarily but he was back in the lead within a single stage and ultimately won by 3m27s.

Kalle Rovanperä wins Arctic Lapland Rally 2020

Image: Merita Mäkinen

Toni Gardemeister’s TGS Worldwide team filled the rest of the top five places with its Skodas. Finnish championship frontrunner Teemu Asunmaa led briefly when Rovanperä made his Friday error and beat last year’s ADAC Opel Rallye Cup champion Eerik Pietarinen to second overall by 48s.

Emil Lindholm and Esa Ruotsalainen completed the top five, followed by World Rallycross star Niclas Grönholm in a Skoda run by his RX squad GRX.

Bottas’s second attempt at the event was marred by a Friday crash that temporarily dropped him to 22nd overall.

He had briefly been as high as fifth in his PH Sport-run Citroën DS3 World Rally Car after going second quickest to Rovanperä on the short Mäntyvaara stage on Friday.

The Mercedes F1 driver ended up recovering to ninth by the finish.