TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team’s Kalle Rovanperä has claimed a second outstanding FIA World Rally Championship victory in three events after conquering the legendary Acropolis Rally in Greece at his first attempt.
Sébastien Ogier completed a double podium finish for the Toyota Yaris WRC, strengthening both his and the team’s positions at the head of the championship standings.
On the return of the WRC to Greece for the first time since 2013, Rovanperä and Ogier formed part of a top-three covered by just 3.9 seconds at the end of Friday. A storming start from Rovanperä and his co-driver Jonne Halttunen, in which they won all four stages in the opening loop, allowed them to make a gap to their opposition, and they led by half a minute going into the final day.
Rain brought challenging conditions for the final day, but Rovanperä produced an incredible stage win in the day’s opening Tarzan test, completing it 14.1s faster than anybody else despite having a mixture of hard and soft tyres fitted to his car. Rovanperä then went on to seal the victory in style on the shorter second running of Tarzan with the fastest time in the Power Stage.
The Toyota Yaris WRC locked out the top three places in the Power Stage, with Elfyn Evans second fastest and Ogier third.
After their closest championship rivals hit trouble on Friday on the notoriously gruelling stages, Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia focussed on securing a valuable podium finish while also keeping the pressure on the crew in second. With his sixth top-three finish of the season, Ogier now leads the drivers’ standings by 44 points with three rounds remaining.
Delayed by a technical issue on Friday, Evans and co-driver Scott Martin produced a strong fightback to take sixth overall with their fantastic run through the Power Stage. Evans remains second in the drivers’ standings.
Thanks to a fifth double podium result of the year and the bonus points from the Power Stage, the team has increased its manufacturers’ championship lead to 57 points.
Team Founder, Akio Toyoda said: “Kalle and Jonne won the rally by leading it ever since SS3. They kept driving strong throughout the event and their Power Stage performance was also amazing! Kalle’s first victory in Estonia set a new record as the youngest WRC winner after Jari-Matti, and he secured a podium in third at the following Rally Ypres, and now he won another rally in Greece. I am so happy that he has become such a reliable driver. He already surpassed his father’s record by winning in WRC twice. Congratulations!
“Our win in Greece is of course thanks to Kalle who keeps learning and improving day by day, but I would also like to thank everybody in the team who supported the crew. This season, to cope with the COVID situation, some engineers remain in Finland and they keep improving how they support the team remotely. During this rally, data engineers in Finland found problems on Kalle’s car at an early stage, which enabled the crew to carry on without the problem becoming serious.”
The next event is Rally Finland, our home event. I hope to see smiles from all the crews in Finland, and I’m sure that all the team members, led by Jari-Matti, will make it happen. I appreciate our fans’ continued support there as well.
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