Where Rovanperä keeps making the difference

Pushing on the powerstage comes with risks, but Rovanperä has recognized its worth the rewards


There’s no greater feeling as a journalist working on the newsdesk during a World Rally Championship round than nailing a post-rally content idea, before the rally has even ended.

Ida Wood and I were therefore suitably pleased with ourselves a week last Sunday. We had it in the bag.

Elfyn Evans had just pipped Ott Tänak to the fastest Acropolis Rally Greece powerstage time by a scant 0.041 seconds. Before that, Sébastien Ogier fell short of what was then the benchmark by Thierry Neuville by just 0.094s.

The wheels had begun turning, a plan was in motion. What have been the closest powerstages in WRC history?

But then Kalle Rovanperä came along. And what did he do? He ruined the plan – blitzing everyone by 2.5s.


Perhaps that’s as close as we’ll ever get to feeling like WRC drivers. Experiencing what it’s like to have a good job undone by Mr Inevitable.

(That feature still has merit by the way – look out for it on DirtFish soon. Just not in the context of one man dominating the rest.)

To paraphrase the world champion, he had been sleeping for the entire morning so it was nice to wake up for that final stage. The taps were opened and boy did the rest know about it.

It was trademark Rovanperä. An astonishing feat done in the cheekiest of styles. It’s something he’s made his own.

As, it must be said, is the powerstage.

With a 1m30s lead in their pocket and on a rally as rough as the Acropolis, most drivers wouldn’t have risked it all for all five bonus points on the powerstage. Particularly when they were already leading the championship.

But Rovanperä isn’t most drivers. Where others see adversity, the Finn sees opportunity.

How does he do it?

“I don’t know,” confessed Toyota sporting director Kaj Lindström.

“He seems to find this extra motivation to get those extra five points, really good job from him.”

It’s almost as if he can’t help himself. Why just win the rally when you can utterly dominate it? The world champion has won three rallies this season, and on all three he has taken the powerstage win with it.

It’s perhaps no surprise then to learn that Rovanperä doesn’t just lead the drivers’ standings this year, but also the powerstage points chart as well.

Position Driver Points
1 Kalle Rovanperä 38
2 Ott Tänak 28
3 Elfyn Evans 23
4= Thierry Neuville 15
4= Esapekka Lappi 15
6 Sébastien Ogier 13
7 Takamoto Katsuta 9
8 Dani Sordo 4
9 Teemu Suninen 3
10= Craig Breen 1
10= Jari-Matti Latvala 1

The only rally this season Rovanperä has failed to register any bonus points on was Finland, and that’s because he didn’t start the powerstage.

Rovanperä has realized the significance of the points-paying stage, and has made executing it to perfection one of his key strengths. For example if the powerstage didn’t exist, Rovanperä would still lead the championship but his advantage would be a far less secure 18 points as opposed to the 33 it currently is.


And last year he ended up winning the championship by just 26 points in the end. But he had scored 24 more points on the powerstage than nearest rival Ott Tänak – so the powerstage effectively safeguarded his title win.

Rovanperä’s command of the powerstage is best understood via the table below, which shows who has scored the most bonus points since 2020 when Rovanperä stepped up to the WRC’s top class.

Position Driver Points
1 Kalle Rovanperä 128
2 Ott Tänak 104
3 Thierry Neuville 98
4 Elfyn Evans 84
5 Sébastien Ogier 68
6 Esapekka Lappi 27
7= Takamoto Katsuta 26
7= Craig Breen 26
9 Dani Sordo 21
10 Teemu Suninen 9
11 Sébastien Loeb 7
12= Gus Greensmith 4
12= Mauro Miele 4
14 Andreas Mikkelsen 3
15 Oliver Solberg 2
16= Jari-Matti Latvala 1
16= Adrien Fourmaux 1
16= Emil Lindholm 1

Yes there are risks associated with gunning for a fastest time on the final stage, but Rovanperä has recognized the rewards are more than worth it.

Particularly if you manage to send a psychological blow to your opposition, as he did in Greece.

“I really went for it,” Rovanperä grinned, “but that’s how we always do.”