Rovanpera feeling “good pressure” as he closes in on WRC title

The Toyota driver can successfully defend his WRC title at the asphalt event if he can outscore team-mate and title rival Elfyn Evans, who trails the Finn by 31 points.

The inaugural Central European Rally, which features stages in the Czech Republic, Germany and Austria, hosts the penultimate round of the season, meaning only a maximum of 60 points remain on the table.

Rovanpera has so far been relatively immune to pressure in his WRC career to date but he admits the «good pressure» he is feeling ahead of this weekend’s rally will help him perform to the highest level.

If he scores more points than Evans he will become only the sixth driver to claim back-to-back WRC crowns.

«The team title is ours so of course that is really great and a big achievement for the whole team. Now we have the important battle for myself with the drivers’ and co-drivers’ titles so there will be a big push in the last two rallies for that,» said Rovanpera.

When asked if he was feeling pressure ahead of the rally, he said: «I think it gives us a good pressure let’s say.

«It is normally a bit better when you have a bit of pressure to do well as you are normally a bit more sharp and will do bit a better job.

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

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

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

«So definitely in the next rally the approach from the start line will be to do a good job and really push and fight for the title.»

Last year Rovanpera sealed his maiden title with two rounds to spare after seeing off Hyundai’s Ott Tanak, who emerged as his nearest rival.

This season, the 23-year-old is facing a battle with his team-mate which he says is a different feeling compared to 2022.

«Yeah, it is always a bit different and it is the second time I am fighting for the title and this time it is with a team-mate and it is much closer in the points so definitely there is more pressure and an intense feeling for the last two rounds,» he added.

«But always when it is between team-mates it is quite a friendly and fair fight at least with the same cars. It should be a good fight.»

Shakedown for the Central European Rally begins on Wednesday afternoon ahead of Thursday’s opening stage in Prague.

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