Kalle Rovanperä has confessed he’s playing “the team game” on the Monza Rally after losing over a minute on the first two stages of the event.
Toyota is the clear favorite to win the World Rally Championship title for manufacturers this weekend as it holds a 47-point lead over Hyundai with just 52 available to score.
Sébastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans are both disputing the drivers’ title and are currently lying a clear first and second on the rally, so Rovanperä – who has no personal agenda – is acting as the team’s insurance policy.
The Rally Estonia and Acropolis Rally winner was surprisingly slow on SS1 Gerosa, losing over three seconds per mile to team-mate Ogier and admitting at stage-end: “Overall the plan this weekend is to finish the rally, there is nothing for me to push for.”
Rovanperä’s pace deficit was even more severe on the succeeding Costa Valle Imagna stage as he lost 44.7 seconds in 13.7 miles to lie 10th overall.
“It’s quite horrible in the car to be honest, when you cannot really push to the limit it’s really hard to be just a bit off,” he explained.
“I take no risk, we just have to drive through for the team points to be there if something happens.
“Of course it’s not the most enjoyable moment for us but we have to be a team player, it’s a really important weekend for the team.”
Toyota just needs one of its cars to finish inside the top seven manufacturer cars at Monza to complete a clean sweep of both world titles in 2021, and Rovanperä is currently banking that position should either Ogier or Evans retire.
Although Rovanperä is behind all the other World Rally Cars overall, only the first two cars from each team can score manufacturer points.
Toyota currently holds first and second with Ogier and Evans, Hyundai third and fourth with Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo, 2C Competition fifth with Oliver Solberg and M-Sport sixth and seventh with Adrien Fourmaux and Gus Greensmith.