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1. Kalle Rovanpera at his absolute best is Sebastien Loeb-like

Kalle Rovanpera racked up his tenth World Rally Championship victory of his already record-breaking profession however final weekend’s runaway efficiency was maybe his greatest but.

The reigning world champion’s gradual begin to his title defence this 12 months raised questions that have been answered by his dominant victory in Portugal, however his complete domination in Estonia drew comparability with the WRC’s most profitable driver, nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb.

Rovanpera claimed the rally lead on Friday regardless of sweeping the quick gravel roads. As soon as in entrance there was no stopping the Finn’s cost on his favorite rally on the calendar. He revealed that his relentless pace was right down to unwavering confidence in himself and his equipment that was mirrored within the stage occasions.

Rovanpera even had the psychological capability to cite legendary Finnish rally driver Markku Alen’s well-known “If I need to win the stage I win the stage” phrase throughout a stage-end interview.

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In the end he gained 15 out of 21 phases which included a memorising Loeb-like streak of 13 consecutive quickest occasions, as he went unbeaten all through Saturday and Sunday. Rovanpera clinched victory by 52.7s in model by claiming his fifteenth Energy Stage win from 55 makes an attempt. His Energy Stage success equates to a 27.3% strike charge that’s solely bettered by eight-time world champion Sebastien Ogier.

Toyota boss Jari-Matti Latvala likened Rovanpera’s display to Loeb in his pomp. The Frenchman rattled off 13 phases wins in a row in Germany 2008 and gained all 12 phases on his option to victory on the 2005 Tour De Corse.


Tanak misplaced the possibility to struggle for victory earlier than Rally Estonia even correctly bought going

Photograph by: M-Sport

2. Tanak penalty triggers FIA regulation overview

Rovanpera confronted a far simpler run to victory in Estonia after one of many rally favourites Ott Tanak acquired a five-minute penalty earlier than the occasion begun, which has triggered an FIA review.

The M-Sport driver’s victory hopes have been successfully over following one move by the shakedown stage on Thursday. A major engine failure prompted the crew to change engines incurring a five-minute penalty as per the WRC’s sporting laws.

Below the present laws, WRC groups are restricted to 2 engines per chassis throughout the season as a part of price saving measures below the Rally1 laws launched final 12 months. On occasion, if an engine change is required and even when there’s nonetheless yet another energy unit within the season allocation, the competitor will obtain a five-minute penalty regardless. The penalty was labelled “harsh” and a “shame” for Rally Estonia by championship chief Rovanpera.

“Each time there is a matter like this we’ve to overview and perceive, however clearly there’s a clear penalty for while you go above two engines [per season],” Andrew Wheatley, the FIA’s street sport director, informed Autosport. “I believe what we have to overview is whether or not that penalty is sufficient by itself or whether or not we nonetheless want the regulation that claims between scrutineering and the beginning of the rally [you receive a five-minute penalty]. I’m positive we are able to discover a higher option to handle that.”

Tanak nonetheless managed to entertain the hundreds of followers that got here out to help their nationwide hero. The 2019 world champion gained six of the opening eight phases that will have resulted within the rally lead barring the penalty as he climbed from forty eighth to eighth by the end.

The WRC drivers will miss Estonia but hope it can be used as a template for future rallies

The WRC drivers will miss Estonia however hope it may be used as a template for future rallies

Photograph by: Purple Bull Content material Pool

3. Drivers lament lack of WRC blueprint occasion for 2024

Rally Estonia’s anticipated omission from the 2024 World Rally Championship left a bitter style among the many drivers, groups and followers after the Baltic nation delivered “what a WRC occasion ought to appear like”, in line with Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville.

Estonia made its WRC debut in 2020 changing into the primary rally of the WRC’s return from its hiatus following the COVID-19 pandemic. It has since grown to change into a favorite amongst drivers because of its quick but difficult phases, meticulous organisation and the spectacular turnout from spectators.


Regardless of a authorities finances lower for this 12 months’s version, the rally continued to draw massive crowds. Nonetheless, after failing to secure a guarantee on government funding, it’s anticipated that Latvia will take its spot, having already been announced as a new addition to the WRC schedule for next year.

“To lose an occasion which is extremely effectively organised, that everybody loves, and to exchange it with one other occasion that’s going to be the identical simply in one other place, however most likely not nearly as good organisation and doubtless not as good phases, for me it’s a mistake,” mentioned Neuville.

The WRC and Rally Estonia organisers are working to safe a brand new three-year deal, which is able to see the occasion be part of the European Rally Championship calendar subsequent 12 months with a view to a WRC return for 2025.

“We’ve all the time been fairly clear that Latvia from its lengthy and excellent service within the ERC deserves the possibility to return into the WRC subsequent 12 months,” WRC occasion director Simon Larkin informed Autosport. “Latvia is a rustic that’s taking it very severely and we predict will probably be an important addition. The fact is, though nothing is fastened but till its introduced, however it most likely signifies that Estonia will likely be within the ERC and we’re taking a look at a multi-year dedication to carry them again to WRC after that.”

Hyundai's gains were on display last weekend as it aims to catch Toyota

Hyundai’s good points have been on show final weekend because it goals to catch Toyota

Photograph by: Purple Bull Content material Pool

4. Hyundai now an actual contender on excessive pace gravel rallies

After struggling to match Toyota in Estonian final 12 months, Hyundai has emerged as a real challenger to the Japanese model on high-speed gravel rallies. Whereas the South Korean didn’t register a quickest stage time largely because of Rovanpera being in a unique postcode, Hyundai delivered far stronger displaying on the sleek gravel ending second, third and fifth with its three entries.

Neuville’s run to second, albeit 52.7s behind Rovanpera, represented a real barometer of the progress, having completed virtually 4 minutes adrift of winner Rovanpera final 12 months. It was the Belgian’s greatest lead to these situations since Rally Finland in 2013.

Neuville credited the upturn in form to the time Hyundai has spent testing and evolving its i20 N at its new Finland check base and the arrival of team-mate Esapekka Lappi, who completed third in Estonia, whose related driving model has helped push the crew ahead in nailing set-ups.

“The very best factor is I felt comfy within the automotive and I used to be capable of drive with my normal rhythm at such a quick occasion,” mentioned Neuville. “The automotive has advanced. We have been far off final 12 months and Ott was even struggling to be near the rostrum. We’ve an excellent automotive and we’ve been doing numerous testing on Finnish roads, that are related, and I am getting extra used to it. With Esapekka, we work in the identical course and we had the identical set-up all weekend as a result of the stability, grip and pace we wish is similar. As a crew, we evolve a lot faster than earlier than.”

Suninen delivered on his belated WRC top class return

Suninen delivered on his belated WRC prime class return

Photograph by: Purple Bull Content material Pool

5. Suninen proves he deserves a second likelihood at WRC massive time

It is honest to say Teemu Suninen has endured a turbulent time within the WRC in recent times, however grasped a second shot on the massive time in Estonia. Suninen has been drafted in to pilot the third i20 N Rally1 alongside Dani Sordo following the tragic lack of Craig Breen in a testing accident in April.

The Finn’s final prime flight WRC outing arrived on the 2021 Rally Monza season finale when he stood in for Ott Tanak just a few months after parting firm with M-Sport mid-season, and spending final season in WRC2 with Hyundai. After solely two check days and a warm-up occasion, Suninen proved he belongs within the prime tier after delivering a faultless but emotional drive to fifth.

“It’s a actually particular feeling to complete fifth. I’m positive Craig has been following my weekend. It might have been good to have completed on the rostrum for him, however we didn’t handle it right here,” mentioned Suninen. “I’ve completed all I can to attempt to work as he had been working, and it’s been an emotional rally for me.”

Suninen will likely be again behind the wheel at Rally Finland subsequent week with expectation ranges raised after his Estonia show.


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