Kalle Rovanpera tops Rally Finland shakedown

Kalle Rovanpera tops Rally Finland shakedown

Rally Finland shakedown stage saw Kalle Rovanperä set the fastest times outpacing Toyota teammate Elfyn Evans by a commanding 0.8 seconds.

Rannankylä made its debut as the shakedown stage last year and in the opinion of Thierry Neuville, it was a tremendously quick way to start the World Rally Championship season’s fastest weekend.

The 2.78-mile stage was wrapped up in just 1m56.3 seconds by the world champion, who is still yet to win his home round of the WRC. However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the title leader, who had an oddly bad run on his second pass.

Evans, who won the 2021 Rally Finland appeared to have won the shakedown stage before Rovanperä’s late charge but he was still 0.3s ahead of leading Hyundai driver Esapekka Lappi, who is attempting to add another Finland victory under his belt.

Ott Tänak who is the defending winner of the Rally Finland, started off as the fastest of all after the first run but fell to fourth by the end of the session, despite the fact that he was just 0.1s slower than Lappi’s best time.

However, Tänak hinted that not all was perfect on his Puma Rally1 after the first run.

Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta impressed on shakedown after a string of unsuccessful rounds recently as he prepared for what he views as his second home rally. The Japanese driver trailed Tänak by only 0.2 seconds in fifth place.

Neuville who is aiming for the podium this weekend, posted a best time good for sixth place, 1.9 seconds slower than the Toyota that had set the pace.

In his M-Sport Ford, Pierre-Louis Loubet finished seventh, half a second ahead of Teemu Suninen, who is making his second WRC appearance this weekend in a Rally1 car.

Meanwhile, Jari-Matti Latvala makes his Rally1 debut and makes his first appearance in WRC in three and a half years. The three-time Finland champion finally reduced the gap to 4.6 seconds by the end of shakedown, despite the Toyota team principal’s timing on the first run being more than six seconds off the lead.

Oliver Solberg set the Rally2 record shakedown time, while Miko Marczyk outpaced Adrien Fourmaux of M-Sport as the fastest WRC2 contender this weekend.

Rally Finland’s battle gets started for the renowned Harju street stage on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. local time.

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