Rovanperä races away, Estonia podium fight heats up behind

The reigning world champion continues to be unmatchable while his rivals fight each other


Kalle Rovanperä has started the final day of Rally Estonia as he finished Saturday, by setting a pace nobody else could match.

The early morning action began with the 12.04-kilometer Karaski stage, a new one to the event, and Rovanperä was fastest by 2.7 seconds over Hyundai’s Esapekka Lappi.

“I cannot be any slower than that,” said Rovanperä afterwards. “I just try to enjoy.”

Elfyn Evans was third fastest, but 2.3s slower than Lappi who he is battling for third place on the rally, and Thierry Neuville was 5.3s off the pace in fourth. That meant his deficit to Rovanperä in the overall classification grew to 40.2s, and his gap back to Lappi reduced to 7.9s.

Rovanperä was even more dominant on the longer Kambja stage, which ran to 18.5km, as he was fastest by 4.6s. It meant he secured his 11th stage win in succession.

This time Toyota team-mate Evans was his closest rival, and Neuville was a further 0.4s slower in third. Lappi dropped 6.3s on the stage, and said “I thought I did a really good stage” until he found out his time, after which he added “very surprised about that”.

He goes into the final two stages with 9.2s to make up on Neuville and with 7.9s in hand over Evans, while Teemu Suninen is over a minute further back in a lonely fifth place.

Takamoto Katsuta is however closing in on Pierre-Louis Loubet’s sixth place, narrowing his seven-second overnight deficit to 3.2s.

Sami Pajari has taken 3.2s out of Andreas Mikkelsen’s WRC2 lead over the morning’s first two stages, and there is 12.6s betwen the pair who are fighting for ninth overall.