Rovanperä out of Rally Finland after striking gravel mound

At the head of the leaderboard, Evans continued run of stage wins by beating second-place occupant Breen


Kalle Rovanperä has retired from Rally Finland, his home round of the World Rally Championship, after a mistake on SS10 on Saturday morning.

Off the back of two victories from the past two gravel events in the WRC, Rovanperä was a heavy favorite for success on local ground this week but it never quite materialized.

Rovanperä had a decent opening leg but did not manage to set a fastest stage time, ending the first day in fifth overall, 7.9 seconds from the lead.

He lost more ground across Saturday morning as he dropped out of the fight for the win, starting SS10 Patajoki 18.6s down on rally leading team-mate Elfyn Evans.


Just a few miles onto the stage, the 21-year-old got his Toyota Yaris WRC crossed up through a quick left-hand bend. Attempting to save the car, Rovanperä jinked the steering to the right but the car bit in and headed towards the opposite side of the road.

There, he had a head-on hit with a large pile of gravel that was protecting a telegraph pole, causing significant front-end damage to his Yaris.

He was therefore unable to continue, retiring from fourth place on the rally and leaving all Finnish hopes on the shoulders of Esapekka Lappi, who is up to fourth at Rovanperä’s expense.


Photo: McKlein Image Database

Lappi was compromised by his compatriot’s exit though, and the Toyota privateer hoped his time would be adjusted by the organizer having been the first car past the scene of the accident.

“The warning was really early,” said Lappi, “I hope we can get some time back because we slowed quite a lot but otherwise it was a good stage.”

Lappi dropped 3.3s to Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville, who has made it his mission to claw back time on Lappi across the day to make further progress up the leaderboard.

Neuville, now fifth because of Rovanperä’s demise, is 20.1s down on Lappi and 12.9s up on Sébastien Ogier but, SS9 aside, has been quicker than both Toyotas across the loop.


Photo: Hyundai Motorsport

Out front, Evans extended his lead to 5.6s over Craig Breen after taking a clean sweep of Saturday morning’s stages.

Evans beat Breen by 1.6s while Ott Tänak dropped another 3.7s to Evans on SS10, leaving the 2018 and 2019 Rally Finland winner 9.7s adrift of the lead at the rally’s midpoint.

“It doesn’t really mean anything at this stage,” Evans cautioned. “Until there’s something to manage, there’s no point to look at anything.”

Craig Breen

Photo: Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool

Breen, who had led the event overnight, was up for the scrap but aware he needs to find something soon if he wants to strike back.

“I didn’t think I’d be in a position to be able to fight with these guys, but Elfyn just has something else I don’t have today,” he said.

M-Sport’s Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux are up to seventh and eighth places with both Rovanperä and Takamoto Katsuta retiring across the morning.

WRC2 leader Teemu Suninen is now up to ninth overall on his first event in a Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, only just ahead of WRC3 leader Emil Lindholm.

SS10 times

1 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) 10m19.8s
2 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (Hyundai) +1.6s
3 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) +3.7s
4 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +7.4s
5 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota) +9.9s
6 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota) +10.7s

Leading positions after SS10

1 Evans/Martin (Toyota) 1h20m15.6s
2 Breen/Nagle (Hyundai) +5.6s
3 Tänak/Järveoja (Hyundai) +9.7s
4 Lappi/Ferm (Toyota) +33.3s
5 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +53.4s
6 Ogier/Ingrassia (Toyota) +1m06.3s
7 Gus Greensmith/Chris Patterson (M-Sport Ford) +2m55.6s
8 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +3m46.9s
9 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Volkswagen) +5m38.3s
10 Emil Lindholm/Reeta Hämäläinen Škoda (Fabia Rally2 evo) +5m44.1s