Finnish World Rally Championship driver Kalle Rovanpera claimed his second win of the season after a storm lead to a chaotic final few stages at the 2022 Rally of Croatia.
The win enables Rovanpera to extend his lead in the 2022 Drivers’ Championship with Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville in second.
Toyota’s Rovanpera entered the final day with a healthy lead over his competition only to watch a downpour undo all his hard work. The ensuing rain handed the advantage to Ott Tanak, who gambling on Pirelli’s softer compound tyre was able to open up at 2.4 second advantage over Rovanpera.
As conditions started to dry, the pendulum started to shift once again with Rovanpera eating into Tanak’s advantage, though the Finn still had a mountain to climb given that the rain had essentially littered the asphalt roads with dirt and mud.
The Finn, eventually prevailed over the Estonian after some gusty driving saw him overturn the deficit handing him back-to-back wins in the championship and extending his lead in the championship to 29 points after three rounds.
“I was sure we could not be so fast with these tyres, but it’s amazing,” Rovanpera told the WRC website.
“We pushed really hard and I think we deserve it this weekend. For sure, it was the toughest win of my career.
Tanak for his part was dejected with the outcome, with the Estonian believing that victory was within his reach.
“I didn’t take any risks but Kalle obviously did a good drive,” Tanak explained. “We were fighting for the win, but only because of clever decisions and tyre choices.”
Tanak‘s win drought now extends back to February 2021.
A race of attrition
The changing conditions caused several drivers to crash with seventh place going to WRC2 driver Yohan Rossel. Ahead of him Ford driver Craig Breen survived a spin and an overshoot to fend off the challenge from British driver Elfyn Evans, with Belgium’s Neuville in third.
Rovanpera maintains his lead in the standings with Neuville in second and Ford’s Breen in third. Toyota continue to lead the Manufacturers Championship with Hyundai in second and Ford in third.
WRC Rally Croatia Results – Top 10
|1||K.ROVANPERA||J. HALTTUNEN||GR Yaris Rally1||2:48:21.5|
|2||O.TANAK||M. JARVEOJA||i20 N Rally1||+4.3|
|3||T. NEUVILLE||M. WYDAEGHE||i20 N Rally1||+2:21.0|
|4||C. BREEN||P. NAGLE||Puma Rally1||+3:07.3|
|5||E. EVANS||S. MARTIN||GR Yaris Rally1||+3:46.0|
|6||T. KATSUTA||A. JOHNSTON||GR Yaris Rally1||+8:08.5|
|7||Y. ROSSEL||V. SARREAUD||C3||+10:01.0|
|8||K. KAJETANOWICZ||M. SZCZEPANIAK||Fabia Evo||+11:01.2|
|9||E. LINDHOLM||R. HSMSLAINEN||Fabia Evo||+11:11.9|
|10||N. GRYAZIN||K. ALEKSANDROV||Fabia Evo||+11:48.5|