Toyota technical director Tom Fowler is confident Kalle Rovanperä’s Rally Finland crash won’t impact on his determination to win the four remaining World Rally Championship rounds of 2023.
The 22-year-old’s mistake last time out not only cost him his chance of a maiden home win, but it slashed a 55-point lead to 25 after team-mate and rival Elfyn Evans delivered the perfect 30-pointer in Jyväskylä.
Rovanperä’s lead in the championship ensures he remains the favorite for this year’s title ahead of the 10th of 13 rounds, Acropolis Rally Greece, but Fowler says he’d be surprised to see a conservative, championship-driven approach deployed aboard the #69 GR Yaris Rally1.
“You can see the difference in him this year,” Fowler told DirtFish. “When he hadn’t won a rally for a while earlier this year, he was pretty p****d off about it – we didn’t see that quite so much at the end of last season when he was working for the title. Then, he was willing to sacrifice wins to maintain the big lead he’d earned after just a few rallies.
“It’s seems a bit different for Kalle now – he’s so pumped for the win.
“What he gets out of the rally is almost as important as the championship. I don’t think he would want to win it by finishing fourth. He wants the battle, he wants the fight.
“What happened in Finland, that’s not the sort of thing that phases him or Jonne [Halttunen, co-driver]. He knows he can do it.
“I’m sure there’s an element that a few more stops have to pulled out to make sure of the results but, like I said, I’m sure his intention was to podium and win as many rallies as possible and it doesn’t really make a difference what the gap is.
“Kalle’s intention was to win the championship when he had a big gap and that’s still his intention now!”