Rovanperä edges 2020 Estonia winner Tänak on shakedown

Pre-event favorite for some, Toyota driver Rovanperä ended up half a second faster than the home hero's Hyundai i20


Kalle Rovanperä edged World Rally Championship rival Ott Tänak on the Rally Estonia shakedown test as the two pre-event favorites bossed proceedings.

Estonia is making its second appearance on the World Rally Championship calendar and kickstarts the second half of a season that has so far been dominated by seven-time world champion Sébastien Ogier.

But it was his young team-mate Rovanperä who set the pace on shakedown, going 0.5 seconds faster than last year’s winner Tänak.


Photo: Hyundai Motorsport

Tänak’s Hyundai was quickest after the first of the three mandatory shakedown runs but Rovanperä’s Toyota overhauled him on the second pass before setting the ultimate pace of 2m51.1s on the 3.87-mile stage.

Fresh from a breakthrough WRC podium last month in Africa, Takamoto Katsuta was the only other driver who got anywhere near the top time with an effort 0.6s slower than team-mate Rovanpera and 0.1s adrift of Tänak.

Elfyn Evans, starting his 100th WRC event in Estonia this weekend, was the third Yaris in a Toyota 1-3-4-5 with a time 1.1s shy of the fastest but, in turn, beat his championship rival Ogier by 0.9s.

Thierry Neuville was another tenth back from Ogier in his Hyundai as he managed the sixth-fastest time, ending up 0.5s clear of his team-mate Craig Breen.

Breen stormed to a strong second place in Estonia 10 months ago but has not driven a competitive gravel stage in a World Rally Car since that event.

Teemu Suninen set the M-Sport benchmark with a 2m54.6s. That was the eighth-fastest time, which was 3.5s adrift of the best on shakedown.


Photo: M-Sport

Suninen’s team-mate Gus Greensmith was ninth fastest, 1.1s slower than the other Ford Fiesta WRC.

The returning Pierre-Louis Loubet, who missed Safari Rally Kenya to regroup from a disastrous season to date, was 10th in his 2C Competition Hyundai, exactly six seconds shy of the pace.

Oliver Solberg, who took Loubet’s i20 Coupe WRC seat for the Safari, has stepped down to WRC2 this weekend and set the pace on shakedown. Double European Rally Champion Alexey Lukyanuk set the WRC3 benchmark, just 0.3s down on Solberg’s effort.