Rovanperä ‘wasn’t on the limit’ in epic Sweden drive

Pace was 'coming quite easily' on way to record podium

Toyota WRC Rally Sweden 2020

Kalle Rovanperä has revealed he was not at the absolute limit in the Rally Sweden drive that made him the World Rally Championship’s youngest ever podium finisher at the age of 19.

Toyota’s new teenage star beat his six-time WRC champion team-mate Sébastien Ogier to third place in only his second start at the top level last weekend, having earlier challenged fellow Yaris driver Elfyn Evans for the rally lead.

Asked by DirtFish’s Colin Clark if it was fair to say the pace had been coming quite easily for him, Rovanperä replied: “Yeah, actually it was. On Friday we had really nice pace and it felt the easiest.

“And then [on Saturday] we had to fight a bit more but it was still nice times.

“If I would push more maybe it would not be so clean anymore and not so fast.

“There are many things to learn but still I was not on the limit all the time so that’s a positive thing.”

Sweden had been tipped as a chance for Rovanperä to star, despite being only his second start in the WRC’s top class.

He began driving rally cars on ice and snow as a child under the tutelage of his father Harri – the 2001 Rally Sweden winner. He also won the Arctic Rally in January, though he didn’t have any rivals in comparable machinery on that event.

Asked by DirtFish if he had been expecting to be so fast in Sweden, Rovanperä replied: “Actually I was maybe, not expecting, but hoping for it.

“This was my goal here, to be at this speed at least.

“I didn’t know if I could be at it all weekend but we could and it was nice.”

Rovanperä’s Swedish performance immediately prompted speculation about how soon he would be winning rallies, but he declined to make any predictions on that front.

“It depends how we will be on the rallies and how it feels, but of course I improve all the time and I try to be better but we still have many things to learn,” he said.