Latvala rules Rovanperä out of Rally Chile victory fight

Toyota's team principal doesn't think the world champion can win from fifth overall with the championship on the line


Was it a team order? Couldn’t have been. Toyota doesn’t do them. But it sort of sounded like one.

Reflecting on a tough opening day of Rally Chile, Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala considered Kalle Rovanperä’s fifth place and offered a fairly grim view of his chances of a maiden South American World Rally Championship success.

“Kalle was dropping more time,” Latvala told DirtFish, “he’s not really anymore in the fight for the victory.

“I think Kalle’s thinking about more the championship, and overall he needs the points. He doesn’t need to take the risks, and just thinking about being in top-five, that’s enough for him.”

Rovanperä is 38.7 seconds off the front. Had J-ML had a word? Was that a team order?

“No,” he smiled. “It’s a team analysis – it’s the analysis I do for all of the drivers.

Typically, Latvala was ready to qualify his considerations.


“When you are so much behind and you start to be close to 40 seconds down – and you are driving fast, open roads and when your road positions is not that good, it’s tough.

“And is there an element of the championship in there as well, as he’s got a lot to lose.”

Rovanperä started 33 points ahead of Elfyn Evans. He needs to protect that buffer with two rallies remaining after Chile.

“Kalle can’t score a zero here,” said Latvala. “You have to remember that. If he does, then he has pressure for points at the Central European Rally, so he needs to also think and consider that.

“If he takes the points inside the top-five from here, then he knows that again a top-five result can be maybe enough [to win the championship] in Central European Rally.”

What were Rovanperä’s thoughts?

Jari-Matti was half right. The championship thing?

“I’m not really thinking about it,” he said. “At this point, you just try to, let’s say, get better pace tomorrow. That’s the only thing we can do.”

But could that better pace be enough?

“To win? OK, you can never say you can’t [win] before you see what’s happening on Sunday, but by driving for sure [I can] not win.

“I think the gap is quite big and we still need to find some speed for tomorrow.”

If anybody’s capable of finding that speed, it’s the defending world champion.