Rovanpera and co-driver John Haltonen He claimed his first world crown with an error-free run over four days of competition on the famous gravel road in New Zealand, who returned to rejoin the World Rally Championship for the first time since 2012.
The duo won by 34.6 seconds over fellow Toyota teammate and outgoing world champion Sebastien Ogier, while Hyundai won. out tanakRovanpera’s main challenger for the title finished third by 48.5 seconds. A fifth win from the start on the road, joins the Finn’s wins in Sweden, Croatia, Portugal, Kenya and Estonia.
Ultimately, Rovanpera wrapped up the world championship by claiming Powerstige’s style that ended the rally, putting the title out of Tanak’s reach with rounds in Spain and Japan to come.
Success sees Rovanpera, who turned 22 yesterday, take charge of the youngest-ever world champion from the late Colin McRae, who won the title in 1995, aged 27. World champion since Marcus Gronholm’s second title in 2002.
Changing weather reduced the disadvantages of starting first on the road on Friday as Rovanpera finished off the day’s six stages, finishing fourth by 7.2 seconds over rally leader Tanak. Although the latter will lose the lead in favor of Toyota Elvin Evans Due to the infringement of the 5s hybrid boost.
Rovanpera was also given a similar penalty that pushed him 12.2 seconds behind Evans at the start of Saturday. However, the Finn once again showed his skills in treacherous wet conditions as Ogier jumped to finish third after the first stage of the day, before taking the lead on stage 9.
Rovanpera helped take the lead by losing Evans, who rolled his Toyota GR Yaris in Stage 9. Despite arriving at midway service on Saturday with a badly damaged car, the FIA ruled the rolling cage damage was too severe to repair.
Kali Rovanpera, John Haltonen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally 1
Photography: Toyota Racing
Rovanpera followed up with two wins on other stages on Saturday afternoon as the Toyota driver, who is celebrating his 22nd birthday, took a 29.0sec advantage over Ogier heading into the final four stages on Sunday.
Rovanpera continued his push through the final four stages before wrapping up victory and the title in style by winning the friendly powersstage podium held in front of thousands of fans.
He left Ogier second after returning to the championship for the first time since June in the Kenya Safari Rally, with a podium finish for the second time this season.
Tanak’s run to third, his fifth consecutive podium, was disrupted by technical issues with his i20 N during Saturday, as well as another 10-second penalty for the second hybrid boost violation, which hit all three Hyundai drivers.
Hyundai Thierry Nouvel She overcame two laps on Friday, a gearbox problem on Saturday and a wild moment in the penultimate stage on Sunday, to finish fourth by far, 1m58.8s shy of Rovanpera. Belgian teammate Oliver Solberg I had a relatively hassle-free experience up to 5th place in the third generation i20 N.
Local Champion and Ex-Hyundai Factory Driver Hayden Paddon He brought his Rally2 spec i20 N home in sixth overall to claim the WRC2 class, ahead of the M-Sport Rally1 Braker. Lorenzo Bertelli The regular WRC2 Kajetan Kajetanowicz.
Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen scored points and climbed the podium in the WRC2 class on his championship debut after bringing the Skoda Fabia home in ninth place ahead of Australian rally champion Harry Bates.
It proved to be another tough rally for M-Sport Ford like Jose Greensmithwho won stage two, retired from sixth place after being rolled by puma in stage 10. His teammate Craig Brin He led the rally on Friday morning before retiring for the day he slipped off the road on stage five.
Fourth Toyota Takamoto Katsuta They exited the rally on Saturday afternoon when the Japanese went off the road on Stage 12.