Rally News

Second WRC title after tougher fight ‘more satisfying’

Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Rovanpera and co-driver Jonne Halttunen clinched a second world title with a round to spare after finishing second behind Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville at the inaugural Central European Rally.

The 23-year-old is only the sixth driver in the WRC’s 50-year history to successfully defend a world title, following in the footsteps of Sebastien Loeb, Sebastien Ogier, Tommi Makinen, Juha Kankkunen and Miki Biasion.

Unlike last year – when Rovanpera dominated the 2022 season with six wins to wrap up the title with two rounds remaining – this year has developed into a closer battle.

This season Rovanpera has won three rallies in Portugal, Estonia and Greece while his rivals, namely team-mate Elfyn Evans have offered stronger opposition.

This put more of a focus on consistency, where the Finn has excelled having finished no worse than fourth while retiring once following a crash in Finland.

“I’ve not had so much time to think about it [winning the title], but of course it means a lot and when you have a bit more time to think about it I will appreciate it more,” said Rovanpera.

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

“I’m quite proud of the year and I think the performance was more important.

“The competition was stronger and there wasn’t many easy points to get like last year when there was much more trouble between everybody. This year it was important all the time to take the points and stay in good positions.

“Yeah, it is [more satisfying to win it this way]. In a way last year was not bad for sure either but this feels quite good also.

“The plan was to just stay consistent and I’m quite happy we can do it. Let’s say it is a long year to do it like this when you can see a few positions more ahead of you in rallies and you just stay in your place as points are important.

“Sometimes you just have to settle for the points but as we have seen this is quite clever.”

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Now the youngest ever two-time world champion Rovanpera was proud to become the sixth back-to-back WRC champion.

“I just heard that [stat] and it sounds quite good. It is clear that it is not so easy to do it back-to-back.”

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