Rally New Zealand: Day 3
Birthday boy Rovanperä sails to the front for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team’s Kalle Rovanperä leads team-mate Sébastien Ogier by 29 seconds with one day remaining at Rally New Zealand after a storming performance in soaking wet conditions on Saturday.
On his 22nd birthday, Rovanperä came into the day in fourth overall and as he has done on several occasions this season, he once more demonstrated his prowess in the rain. He already claimed the lead after winning the day’s second stage and two further stage wins in the afternoon enabled him to add to the advantage he takes into the final day. He has a chance to clinch a historic first drivers’ title on Sunday should he win the event and set a strong time on the rally-ending Power Stage.
Reigning champion Ogier made the most of his vast experience to also produce a strong and consistent performance in the demanding conditions, moving up into second overall and creating a margin of 17.4s over third-placed Ott Tänak despite incurring a 10-second penalty after checking in late to SS12.
Elfyn Evans took the lead at the start of the day but was caught out by the conditions on the second stage of the morning when he spun into a bank and rolled his car. He was able to continue and make it back to mid-day service in Auckland, but damage to the rollcage meant he was forced to retire on safety grounds.
Takamoto Katsuta had climbed up into fifth position overall in his TGR WRT Next Generation entry when he became the latest victim of the conditions and slid off the road in SS12. The team will inspect his car tonight and attempt to prepare it for a restart tomorrow.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“It has been an eventful Satuday in really demanding conditions. Although the grip on the stages here is not so bad even with the heavy rain, it has been inconsistent and difficult for the drivers to judge. Because of that we’ve seen a few drivers having incidents and unfortunately Elfyn was one of those; there is damage to the rollcage that we are not able to repair so sadly he can’t restart tomorrow. But aside from that we can be very happy to have a one-two tonight. Again we have seen Kalle do an amazing drive in tricky conditions and Seb is also doing an important job which is really helping for the championship. We are in a great position going into tomorrow but we’re not there yet. The weather is not going to get any easier, so we need to keep 100 per cent focus on the driving and try to bring it home.”
Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 1)
“We had really challenging conditions today and I’m happy that we could bring the car to the end of the day because there were some very tricky places. But it was still a lot of fun in the car. This afternoon when there was even more heavy rain and more water on the road, Kalle did an amazing job. Hats off to him, because doing this speed in these conditions was again very impressive. After what unfortunately happened to Elfyn this morning I knew it was important to be there for the team. Nothing is decided yet but I would be very happy if we can secure this result tomorrow.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“All went OK in the first stage this morning but then in the second stage in a downhill braking we were a bit too fast and lost control of the rear of the car. There was no chance to recover it with the throttle and we touched the bank on the inside and rolled the car. Thankfully we landed on our wheels and were able to carry on. Cosmetically the car didn’t look so good but it was still driving remarkably well. There was a small leak which we managed to plug so that we could bring the car back to service, but unfortunately there was some rollcage damage detected and we had to retire.”
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“It has been a really tricky day but it was actually quite enjoyable in the car and I think we managed the conditions really well. It was a big challenge but I saw that as an opportunity more than anything and I think we took that opportunity and used it quite well. I was happy with the car and I was pushing really hard to gain some time. Now we are leading and can be pleased with the gap we have built. We will try to prepare for tomorrow like any other day. It’s not a long day but there’s still four stages to go and they could be tricky ones, so we just need to try and do a good job and see where we are at the end.”
End of day three (Saturday):
1 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) 2h28m26.3s
2 Sébastien Ogier/Benjamin Veillas (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +29.0s
3 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +46.4s
4 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +1m41.4s
5 Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +3m34.9s
6 Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (Hyundai i20 N Rally2) +8m51.0s
7 Lorenzo Bertelli/Lorenzo Granai (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +9m18.3s
8 Kajetan Kajetanowicz/Maciej Szczepaniak (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +10m55.7s
9 Shane van Gisbergen/Glen Weston (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +12m00.4s
10 Harry Bates/John McCarthy (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +15m23.7s
Retired Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID)
(Results as of 17:00 on Saturday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
The final day is made up of two new stages on the eastern edge of Auckland, which are both repeated to make up 31.18 competitive kilometres. The second pass of the purpose-built Jack’s Ridge Haunui test will serve as the rally-ending Power Stage with bonus points on offer.
Press kit and Event pictures will be uploaded here
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