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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Rovanpera on the right track for memorable win, tyre problem prices Evans

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Kalle Rovanpera produced a surprising drive in difficult circumstances to steer Rally Poland heading into the ultimate day of the seventh spherical of the World Rally Championship.

The last-minute replacement for Toyota team-mate Sebastien Ogier, who suffered a pre-event reconnaissance crash, received six of the day’s seven levels to open up a 9.4s lead over Hyundai’s Andreas Mikkelsen.

Rovanpera began Saturday 1.8s behind Mikkelsen and regardless of his restricted occasion preparation he was in a position to overhaul the Hyundai driver in stage 10, earlier than pulling away from the Norwegian throughout the afternoon. The efficiency earned Rovanpera 18 provisional championship factors for topping the standings, whereas Mikkelsen secured 15 factors.

A proper rear tyre delamination price title contender Elfyn Evans his grip on second place because the Toyota driver needed to accept third [+16.1s] for 13 factors. M-Sport’s Adrien Fourmaux drove well to carry onto fourth [+37.0s] to choose up 10 factors.

Rally1 debutant Martins Sesks [+58.2s] hung onto fifth by 0.1s from championship chief Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville [+58.3s], who took a provisional eight factors. M-Sport’s Gregoire Munster [+1m24.5s] and Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta [+1m41.9s] rounded out the highest eight.

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Solely eight Rally1 vehicles began the afternoon loop held in excessive warmth after Hyundai elected to retire Tanak’s i20 N to concentrate on difficult for Tremendous Sunday factors tomorrow. The Estonian, who reported an engine problem throughout the morning, had nothing to combat when it comes to Saturday factors after retiring from the motion on Friday after a collision with a deer.

Toyota, Hyundai and M-Sport opted for differing tyre methods to deal with the trio of levels, with rubber changing into a speaking level on the afternoon’s first check, stage 13 [Swietajno, 18.50km].

Andreas Mikkelsen, Hyundai World Rally Group

Photograph by: Tomasz Kaliński

Rally chief Rovanpera was uncertain if Toyota’s determination to take one onerous and 4 softs was the proper name, however on first reflection it appeared promising because the Finn received the stage to increase his rally lead.

That lead was now over Mikkelsen, after Evans suffered a wierd problem with the delicate tyre on his proper rear. The tyre misplaced all of its tread in a partial delamination, which contributed to a lack of 8.9s, dropping the Welshman from 0.4s behind Rovanpera to 9.3s adrift in third general.

“There was no warning the tyre simply exploded,” stated Evans.

After being cautious in Friday afternoon’s second cross by way of the levels, Mikkelsen took the other strategy immediately, ending the stage solely 2.8s behind Rovanpera.

“We are attempting onerous, it’s very tough. Yesterday on the second loop I used to be making an attempt to regulate my driving, immediately I don’t care in regards to the tyres or the edges, it seems to be prefer it’s working,” stated Mikkelsen.

The opposite driver on the transfer was championship chief Neuville as his bid to leapfrog Sesks into fifth continued. The Belgian posted the third-fastest stage time, taking 7.1s out of Latvian, to shut the hole 8.7s. Neuville was helped when Sesks misplaced time when he briefly ran broad at a left hander.

Neuville attacked on stage 14 [Goldap 19.90km] as he continued to slash the hole to Sesks, however was downbeat on the stage finish, labelling his run a “catastrophe” because of the messy highway situations. Nevertheless, his effort was 6.2s quicker than Sesks, chopping the deficit to 2.4s of their battle over fifth.

Martins Sesks, Renars Francis, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Martins Sesks, Renars Francis, M-Sport Ford World Rally Group Ford Puma Rally1

Photograph by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

On the entrance, Rovanpera was additionally satisfied he would lose time to his rivals as his delicate tyres started to surrender, however he received the stage by 2.2s from Neuville and prolonged his rally result in 5.2s over Mikkelsen.

Regardless of this, Rovanpera was adamant that the tyre determination was “unhealthy” and “onerous tyres would have been quicker”.

Rovanpera quashed any fears over his tyres by profitable the day’s remaining stage [Czarne, 22.40km] by 2.8s from Evans, whereas Mikkelsen may solely put up a time for third, 4.2s adrift.

The stage did ship drama as Sesks survived a wild second over a bounce to carry off Neuville by 0.1s within the general standings, because the Hyundai driver rued a small mistake that he felt price him a second.

In WRC2, Sami Pajari maintained the lead from a recovering Oliver Solberg, who sat seventh within the class on Friday.

4 levels await the crews on Sunday to conclude the occasion.

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