The World Rally Championship teenaged hero Kalle Rovanperä has warned against expecting more miracles from the #69 Toyota Yaris WRC at next week’s Rally México.
Along with his championship-leading team-mate Elfyn Evans, the 19-year-old Finn has been the story of the season so far with an exceptionally mature Monte Carlo Rally topped by a Sébastien Ogier-beating run to his maiden WRC podium in Sweden last month.
His first gravel outing in a factory World Rally Car will be different according to the youngster himself.
“Sweden was of course a very nice rally for us,” he said, “but I think México could be one of the trickiest events for me this year with my experience. We will have to see how it goes.
“The pre-event test in Spain was the first time for me on gravel in the Yaris WRC, but I was getting used to the feeling more and more. We tried a few different set-up options and I think we found a good compromise. I competed on Rally México two years ago and the main difficulty there is the high altitude, which means you need to adapt your driving style.”
Rovanperä’s maiden México outing in 2018 was halted by a radiator-bursting rock in the middle of the road on the Duarte test. He retired from the opening day, but returned to take more experience over the weekend in Guanajuato.
While Rovanperä is talking down his chances, team principal Tommi Mäkinen is in confident mood – especially now he feels his squad’s fixed the overheating issues which plagued the Yaris on early visits to the WRC’s North American round.
Mäkinen said: “It has been a brilliant start to the season for the whole team and, of course, we hope to keep it going in México. It is a rally where we know that the altitude and the high temperatures can make it tough for the cars.
“We have worked very hard and improved a lot in this area since we started: We already saw there last year that we had no issues with the cooling, and the speed was very good too. So I am feeling confident that we can go there and have another strong rally with our three crews, who have all settled in to the team incredibly well so far.”