Rovanperä explains Sweden retirement

Radiator damage and a puncture left the world champion stranded but he expects to restart on Saturday


Kalle Rovanperä has explained his retirement from the lead of Rally Sweden on Friday morning’s first stage.

The world champion was making his first start of the season in his part-time program for Toyota this year, and held a 5.7-second lead going into the 17.5-mile Floden stage having been fastest on two of the rallies first three stages.

Rovanperä was looking to take advantage of his beneficial road position and had been disappointed with his driving, despite his rally lead.

After vowing to “do better on the next one”, it all went wrong Rovanperä.

In remarkably similar circumstances to Ott Tänak’s similar retirement on the same stage, Rovanperä ran wide in a high-speed corner and through a snowbank. Damage to the radiator, as well as puncture, meant that he could not continue.

“We had a spin which then broke the radiator at the same time,” explained Rovanperä. “We also had a puncture in the same moment and we fixed all those in the stage, but we had to unfortunately retire.

“So it’s a big shame, finally having a good start and also a good chance to fight for the win. Sorry for the team that we couldn’t bring some good points for them this weekend.”

Early-morning fog and ongoing snowfall had make conditions tricky through the Friday morning stages, with visibility particularly tough early on. The falling snow also reduced the impact of road-sweeping on the stages.

“It was tricky, of course, heavy snowfall all the time also,” said Rovanperä. “It was quite a similar moment to what Ott had also – I saw his video. Really similar moment, just going a bit wide.

“I think some guys in front of me already touched the bank quite a lot, so there was a big hole in the bank. I drop in the hole and the bank just kicks us over.

“Not, let’s say, a huge moment. We spin basically 360 [degrees], but the radiator gone and also the puncture at the same time. So we would have lost time anyway, but unfortunately we couldn’t bring the car back.”

With minimal damage, Rovanpera expects to restart the rally on Saturday – subject to confirmation from Toyota – but his victory hopes have gone.

He concluded: “Let’s hope that’s all [the only damage] from that. Of course, the guys will check the car and see, but should be fine.”