Kalle Rovanpera claimed a podium finish for the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team at Ypres Rally Belgium following a final-day battle with his team-mates Elfyn Evans and Sebastien Ogier as the event came to a close at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
In the first Ypres Rally to be held as part of the FIA World Rally Championship, all three of the team’s drivers were very closely matched throughout their debut appearances on the tricky Belgian roads. They ended Saturday covered by just 4.3 seconds in an in-house fight for third overall, with Evans leading Rovanpera and Ogier as they headed to Spa for the final four stages.
The final day’s stages were considerably different in character to what had come before, combining twisty public roads in the Ardennes region with access roads around the Spa circuit as well as sections of the racetrack itself. Rovanpera stole a march on the competition in the day’s first stage, where he posted the fastest time to move ahead of Evans and into third. Ogier meanwhile dropped back from his team-mates after sustaining tyre damage.
Rovanpera went on to seal third place by 6.5s over Evans and claim an impressive result for himself and co-driver Jonne Halttunen as the leading Ypres debutants. Evans and his co-driver Scott Martin took fourth while Ogier and Julien Ingrassia finished fifth. Ogier was second-fastest on the rally-ending Power Stage (with Rovanpera fourth and Evans fifth) to gain additional points and strengthen his championship lead, which now stands at 38 points over Evans, who is tied on points with the driver in third. Toyota continues to lead the manufacturers’ standings by 41 points.