Rally Estonia: Day 3
Rovanperä and TOYOTA GAZOO Racing unbeatable in stunning Saturday
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team’s Kalle Rovanperä was unbeatable on Rally Estonia’s fast forest roads on a sensational Saturday as he opened up a commanding lead ahead of the final day.
Saturday served up a different challenge to Friday, with a pair of stages to be run twice in the morning before another two tests were driven twice after mid-day service. Making the most of a more favourable road position after he had to open the loose gravel roads on Friday, Rovanperä would be fastest in all eight of these forest stages as he gradually extended a lead that stood at just three seconds at the start of the day.
A repeat of Thursday night’s tricky and technical super special next to the service park in Tartu rounded out the day, where Rovanperä was quickest once again to complete a clean sweep of the day’s nine stages. It also increased his rally lead to 34.9 seconds as he looks to secure victory at Rally Estonia for the third year in a row.
Elfyn Evans was locked in an incredibly close battle for third position throughout the day with Esapekka Lappi (Hyundai). He began the day 1.9s behind his rival, closing that gap to 0.7s after the morning’s first two stages before the difference swung back to 1.9s by mid-day service. At the end of the day they are still only separated by 7.3s.
Takamoto Katsuta remains in seventh overall after building his confidence and pace while facing some of the most slippery conditions running second on the road. Only seven seconds separate him from sixth place.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“We have seen an incredible drive from Kalle today. Watching from the stages, you can see he has a great feeling for the road conditions. He’s able to brake later and use the road more, so the confidence level is higher and we could see that in his times today. He learned to drive on roads like these – this is like a home rally for him – and he really enjoys driving these stages and these conditions. The job is not finished yet but I’m sure he can bring the victory home tomorrow. Elfyn meanwhile is in a really close fight with Esapekka which has been great to watch. Both of them are driving well and Esapekka was slightly faster this afternoon but I think there’s still a good chance for Elfyn to attack tomorrow morning when there’s less grip from the road.”
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“It’s been an amazing day. It doesn’t happen so often that you can win all the stages in one day. We had a clear plan this morning to push hard and get a bit of a gap if we can, and to make use of our better starting place. It was a bit easier to match the speed, we had a clean morning and gained a lot of time. This afternoon I really enjoyed the stages and it went well, the feeling was great in the car. Tomorrow is still a tricky day, with a new stage that is quite technical, so we need to stay sharp, do a good job and then hopefully we can have a final push on the Power Stage.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“It has been a pretty close battle with Esapekka: there has been a fair bit of back and forth between us during the day and we’ve both enjoyed the fight. It was particularly tight this morning: I took a bit in the first couple of stages, and then he took exactly the same amount back. The gap went a bit more in his favour towards the end of the day, so it’s a bit bigger now than we would like. The longer stage this afternoon maybe didn’t suit us so well and we conceded a bit too much time there. But it’s still relatively close and all to play for tomorrow. We’re going to give it everything we have and see what we can do.”
Takamoto Katsuta (Driver car 18)
“Together with the team we changed a few things on the car last night and we made a good step forward with the setup, so I felt much better than yesterday. Of course, I was struggling a bit with the grip because of our starting position, which we knew would be the case. But other than that, it was going well this morning. I was trying to improve my driving more this afternoon, but then many things happened. We had a few issues with the car and the intercom and it was a bit difficult to work out what was going on, but we got through all the stages OK and that’s the main thing.”
End of day three (Saturday):
1 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) 2h05m29.3s
2 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +34.9s
3 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +45.4s
4 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +52.7s
5 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +1m41.5s
6 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Nicolas Gilsoul (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +2m25.5s
7 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +2m32.5s
8 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +5m55.2s
9 Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +7m37.1s
10 Sami Pajari/Enni Mälkönen (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +7m52.9s
(Results as of 21:00 on Saturday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
The final day of the rally is made up of two runs each over the mostly-new Karaski stage and an extended version of the Kambja test, which hosts the rally-ending Power Stage for the second year in succession.
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