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Monday, March 4, 2024

Untouchable Rovanpera storms to commanding lead

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The Toyota driver received seven of the 9 levels as he blitzed his rivals throughout a difficult Saturday punctuated by intermittent rain showers.

Evans received the day’s opening check earlier than Rovanpera rattled off seven consecutive stage wins to open up a 29.1s lead over the Welshman heading into Sunday’s remaining six levels.

Hyundai’s Ott Tanak was unable to mount a problem to the 2 Toyota drivers, leaving the four-time Rally Estonia winner third, some 1m11.5s in arrears.

Staff-mate Thierry Neuville endured a relative quiet run to finish the day in fourth after benefiting from a puncture for Toyota’s Esapekka Lappi incurred through the morning loop.

Unable to match the frontrunners, Neuville was 2m20.3s adrift, however a greater than minute forward of fifth-placed Takamoto Katsuta. M-Sport’s Adrien Fourmaux ended the day 10.9s behind the Japanese driver in sixth, with Lappi seventh.

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The M-Sport pair of Pierre-Louis Loubet and Gus Greensmith reached service in eighth and ninth.

Regardless of sunny circumstances, a number of moist patches and muddy ruts remained as crews tackled a second move of the morning levels.

Rovanpera felt he wasn’t “awake sufficient” for the primary move of the Elva stage, however second time round he set a blistering tempo to maneuver an additional 3.3s away from nearest rival Evans. The time got here regardless of the Finn not feeling content material together with his efforts.

“I felt like I left loads of time there, however the time continues to be good,” he stated.

Tanak produced a dedicated run to maintain on the tail of the Toyotas, 0.5s slower than Evans, whereas Neuville elected to make use of the run as a check session given his comfy hole over Katsuta.

Ott Tanak, Martin Jarveoja, Hyundai World Rally Staff Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Picture by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Benefitting from a set-up tweak, Rovanpera’s cost continued into Stage 15, which was bone dry not like the earlier check.

The Toyota driver, who stated he was “simply driving usually” claimed his fifth consecutive stage win, pulling one other 3.5s away from Evans, who may solely set the third quickest time behind Tanak.

Additional down the order, Hyundai’s Oliver Solberg had a wild second as he fought towards continual understeer from his i20 N, he declared was “unsafe”.

Heavy rain returned through the subsequent stage to as soon as once more throw a curveball for the drivers as they tried to navigate by means of deep ruts.

Nonetheless, there was no stopping Rovanpera as he reeled off one other stage win to push the lead out to nearly half a minute.

Evans did his finest to push by means of tough circumstances however ended 3.5s shy of his team-mate as Tanak as soon as once more set the third quickest time.

The trio denied a charging Solberg the chance for a maiden WRC stage win because the Swede clocked a powerful time to take a seat fourth on the timing display screen, regardless of a wild sideways second over a leap.

There was nonetheless drama on the very begin of the stage as M-Sport’s Craig Breen was compelled to cease attributable to puncture brought on by working over an anti-cut machine that was mendacity on the street. The Irishman misplaced two minutes within the course of.

The rain eased for the penultimate check of the day however deep ruts ensured the street circumstances remained difficult.

However it was comparable story on the entrance as Rovanpera claimed his tenth stage win of the occasion by the narrowest of margins, as he pipped Evans by 0.1s. The pair as soon as once more denied Solberg a stage win because the younger Swede continued his return to type.

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Picture by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Rovanpera’s stage-winning streak was ended by Fourmaux on the brief spectator-friendly tremendous particular to finish the day.

Fourmaux denied Solberg a stage win by 0.1s, with Evans third quickest an additional 0.3s again. Evans did take 0.4s out of Rovanpera’s lead, because the latter clocked the fifth finest time.

In WRC2, Andreas Mikkelsen will take a ten.6s lead over Teemu Suninen into the ultimate day.

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