Rovanperä wins all nine Rally Estonia stages on Saturday

There was simply no catching the world champion who leads Thierry Neuville by 34.9 seconds


Kalle Rovanperä goes into the final day of Rally Estonia with a lead of 34.9 seconds after winning every single stage on Saturday.

The 1.6s margin he won the opening stage of the day by was the smallest advantage he had over his Rally1 opposition until the short superspecial that ended the day’s action, which he won by 0.9s.

Rovanperä’s biggest stage-winning margin was 4.3s, and over the course of Saturday he grew his lead over Thierry Neuville by 31.9s.

Before the superspecial were the second passes through Elva and Kanepi, and Rovanperä’s Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans was his closest rival on Elva. That helped him close in on Neuville’s Hyundai team-mate Esapekka Lappi for third, with Lappi somewhat stunned to be a second slower than his rival for the final podium place.

“I pushed like hell, so very disappointed for the team,” said Lappi. “I did a really good stage, but it’s a s*** time.”

Neuville, who was also faster than Lappi “had a good stage, it was fun to be honest”. Rovanperä was smiling even more during his stage-end interview as his rally lead surpassed 30s.

“It’s feeling quite easy at the moment. The car is working well. I don’t need to push so much, I just keep the driving really clean and the times come.”

Neuville returned to being Rovanperä’s closest stage rival on the second run through Kanepi, and Lappi rebounded to add 2.9s to his lead over Evans to sit 5.6s clear going into the final stage.

But Lappi was then unhappy again after the superspecial, despite being the closest to Rovanperä’s pace and finishing the day with 7.3s in hand over Evans. Over the course of the day he only lost 1.3s to Neuville, meaning he is still also in contention to finish second.

Teemu Suninen is fifth overnight, ahead of Pierre-Louis Loubet and Takamoto Katsuta who are split by just seven seconds.

Ott Tänak is eighth, ahead of WRC2 leader Andreas Mikkelsen who has just 15.8s in hand over Sami Pajari.