The Rovanperä mystery explained

Rovanperä's Rally Portugal was on the up when he suddenly pulled out without explanation. DirtFish now has the answers


Less than two seconds off the fastest time on Saturday afternoon’s Cabeceiras de Bastos test on Rally Portugal, there was nothing to indicate there was anything amiss with Kalle Rovanperä’s Toyota Yaris WRC. Quite the opposite. It looked like the Finn had found some balance and was ready to start moving forward from sixth place.

Swapping tires around ahead of Amarante, the 20-year-old was back in the car and heading towards the stage start. Moments later, he was heading in the opposite direction and driving the car back to Porto.

DirtFish understands the Finn noticed a suspension issue, contacted the team and elected to return to service rather than continue.

Toyota’s technical director Tom Fowler has declined to comment on specifics, but he has admitted the team’s directive was to bring the car back.

“Kalle sent us some pictures of the area of the car in question, and we had a decision to make,” said Fowler.

“The decision didn’t just impact Portugal, but with such a tight turnaround to Sardinia, driving on and damaging the chassis would have made it more complicated to get the car perfect for Italy.

“We would have had to bodge the chassis to make it right [at the end of day two in Portugal] and then send it back to Finland before it could go to Sardinia.

“If he’d continued it would have meant a five-day round-trip to Finland to get the car ready for Sardinia. Basically, the area in question had a part on its last legs.

“There had been a failure in the last 100 meters of the previous stage. The car was fine for the road, but it wouldn’t have worked in the stage.”