Rovanperä ‘not pushing hard’ as he dominates in Estonia

The reigning World Champion added to his rally lead with two assertive stage wins


Kalle Rovanperä’s domination of Rally Estonia has continued into Saturday afternoon as he won both of the first loop’s stages.

The Toyota driver won SS13 by 3.6 seconds, which was the same margin between Thierry Neuville in second and Ott Tänak who set the sixth fastest time. How hard was Rovanperä pushing?

“Not hard,” he said. “I’m surprised about the time.” He then added: “I left some time there, but it looks to be OK.”

It grew his rally lead over Hyundai’s Neuville to 23.9s, while Esapekka Lappi outpaced Elfyn Evans by 0.6s to build his advantage in the battle for third place up to 2.5s.

Rovanperä was even more dominant on SS14, winning it by 3.8s over Neuville to extend his lead to 27.7s. He has won every single stage on Saturday so far.

Lappi and Evans were third and fourth once again, meaning the gaps between each of the top four positions opened up.

Hyundai driver Lappi said he had a lot of vibration on the rear-left of his car after hitting a bank, but it did not cost him any time.

The focus in the stage though was on what happened to Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta, who was sixth fastest through but then had his car stuck in stage mode and there was some real concern once he reached the stage finish that something majorly wrong had happened with his car.

But he managed to get it going to head to regroup, where he explained what happened to DirtFish.

“We’ve never had this before. On the stage something came on the display and after that it wasn’t working and I was just driving by feeling.

“No gear indicator or anything.”

Asked if he was confident he’d make the next stage, he replied: “Yeah, we can drive.”

There was drama when the Rally2 runners hit the stage, as Georg Linnamäe crashed out of 13th place overall and fifth in class. Andreas Mikkelsen remains the WRC2 leader.