Being the «smartest driver» earned Rovanpera Acropolis WRC win

The reigning world champion recorded his third WRC victory of 2023 in one of the most brutal and unforgiving events in recent memory, taking the win by 1m31.7s from title rival and Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans.

The Acropolis is renowned for being a rally of attrition but conditions for this year were even more challenging following Storm Daniel, which brought torrential rain to the region in the build-up.

Making pacenotes was made difficult by the weather disrupting recce while shakedown was cancelled completely.

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However, Rovanpera was able to limit the damage by starting first on the road and was one of only two regular Rally1 drivers to complete the 15 stages without picking up a puncture or a mechanical issue.

The 22-year-old Finn did this while winning eight of the 15 stages to keep him firmly in the fight before inheriting the lead after Thierry Neuville and Sebastien Ogier retired with broken suspension.

Once ahead, he claimed a comfortable win and secured the five bonus Power Stage points to score a maximum of 30 points from the rally.

“It is a [remarkable win],” said Toyota’s Kaj Lindstrom, who led the squad this weekend while team principal Jari-Matti Latvala was driving Toyota’s new Rally2 car in Japan.

“He is young but he is bloody clever. I think he was the smartest driver at this rally.

“To see him push and take everything out of the car, and stay out of trouble and save the car, he did it really maturely.

Kalle Rovanperä, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Kalle Rovanperä, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Photo by: Toyota Racing

“When you speak with him and listen to his comments it’s very difficult to think that he was born in the 2000s. He is very mature.”

Asked if he felt he needed to be clever to win this rally, Rovanpera replied: “Yeah, of course.

“It is always quite clear that you need to finish and take care of the car and the tyres also, so that was our plan, to push hard from the first place [on the road] but I still felt that I took care. I didn’t take all the risks.”

Rovanpera did throw caution to the wind to win the Power Stage to extend his championship lead over Evans to 33 points with three rallies remaining.

“There is always a need when you can grab extra points,” he added. “I didn’t really want to give them away either.

“I knew Elfyn was going to be pushing in the fight with Dani [Sordo for second place] so he would get points, so we needed to get points also.”

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