Rovanperä runs away on Estonia Saturday morning loop

The Toyota driver stretched his lead over Craig Breen to over half a minute on the morning loop


Kalle Rovanperä has earned a commanding Rally Estonia lead over Craig Breen after Saturday morning’s stages, but did lose 0.3 seconds to his rival on SS13.

Rovanperä did the damage on the first stage of the morning, beating Breen by almost 15s after a storming drive that has given him the initiative at the head of the field.

The rally is therefore now Rovanperä’s to lose as his current advantage over Breen stands at 35.7s.

Breen hasn’t been quite as rapid as he was on Friday, but still produced another strong performance across the loop.

His second place looks quite secure, as he has 46.3s in hand over his Hyundai team-mate Thierry Neuville who’s third.

Ott Tänak isn’t a feature on the leaderboard but certainly had an impact on the stage times, returning to action following his retirement on Friday.


Photo: Hyundai Motorsport

Tänak won three of the morning’s stages – including SS13 – and spent two of them running as second car on the road, and the other two sandwiched between Sébastien Ogier and Neuville in the running order as the two squabble over the final podium place.

Currently it’s advantage Neuville, but ironically, he lost time to Ogier on both of the two stages he had team-mate Tänak running directly ahead of him on the road.

Neuville dropped 1.3s to Ogier on SS13, protecting a 4.5s gap in third over the championship leader.

Ogier’s chief title rival and Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans had been hoping to throw himself into this battle but hasn’t quite managed to do so.

Evans dropped 2.9s to Ogier on SS13 and is now 23.2s behind his rival with 11 Estonian stages still to run.

Gus Greensmith cleaned the road for the chasing pack across the morning, returning to action following his mechanical retirement on Friday.


Photo: M-Sport World Rally Team

His pace was relatively similar to M-Sport team-mate Teemu Suninen’s; Suninen edging Greensmith by 0.4s on SS13 indicative of that point.

Suninen lies in sixth position, 43.3s ahead of 2C Competition’s Pierre-Louis Loubet who’s on course to equal his best ever WRC finish of seventh.

Andreas Mikkelsen leads WRC2, but the fight for second between Mads Østberg and Nikolay Gryazin is over as Gryazin rolled his Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 upside down on SS13 and blocked the stage.

Alexey Lukyanuk is ahead of both Mikkelsen and Østberg though in eighth overall, leading WRC3 by 1m30.3s over fellow multiple European champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz.

Sami Pajari is continuing to control his advantage in Junior WRC, but Martin Koči has been the man on a mission on Saturday as he the first three stages to depose Jon Armstrong of second place.

Armstrong had been looking to put the pressure on Pajari having won the final two stages on Friday, but the Croatia winner struggled for grip on Saturday and was soon overhauled by the inspired Koči.

Pajari’s lead stands at 28.5s, winning SS13 with Armstrong 7.7s in arrears of Koči.

SS13 times

1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) 4m17.6s
2 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota) +1.0s
3 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (Hyundai) +1.2s
4 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +1.5s
5 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +2.3s
6 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +3.9s

Leading positions after SS13

1 Rovanperä/Halttunen 1h41m26.5s
2 Breen/Nagle +35.7s
3 Neuville/Wydaeghe +1m22.0s
4 Ogier/Ingrassia +1m26.5s
5 Evans/Martin +1m49.7s
6 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (M-Sport Ford) +4m58.4s
7 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Florian Haut-Labourdette (Hyundai) +5m41.7s
8 Alexey Lukyanuk/Yaroslav Fedorov (Škoda) +6m10.3s
9 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (Škoda) +6m41.8s