Kalle Rovanpera says that he is still trying to pinpoint what exactly caused him to crash – and then roll – his GR Yaris Rally1 while in the lead of Secto Rally Finland on Friday.
The Finn started the repeat of ‘Lankamaa' with a narrow 5.7s lead over Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mate and 2021 event winner, Elfyn Evans, and was looking to extend that further with a sixth consecutive fastest time.
However, Rovanpera appeared to lose the rear of his car on a right-hander, with the impact sending it into a roll before ending up on its roof. Despite getting it back onto its wheels thanks to the persistence of spectators, the damage was too severe for him to continue.
Explaining what contributed to the off 11.1 kilometres into the stage, the reigning World Champion explained that he was feeling comfortable in the car and not taking any unnecessary risks to stay ahead of his rivals.
“It is a bit actually, let's say, stupid crash because it doesn't really feel like we should have crashed there,” said Rovanpera, who will restart on Saturday ensuring he can avoid a first no-score of the current campaign. “I don't have any idea why we over-snapped like this on the corner.
“From the braking I felt that the speed is fine, I felt like that, ‘Now it is going to be an okay corner', but maybe just being the first car, you always jump off the line, especially for the rear tyres usually.
“And yeah, we got some mud or something from the rear – full slide, full lock, I cannot straighten the car out – and then from the ditch we hit something really hard, bed rock or something and that sent us flying.”
Despite the car looking second hand after the spill, it did its job of protecting Rovanpera and co-driver Jonne Halttunen, although both were left sore. “More or less,” he said when asked if he was okay.
“Of course, it is always a bit painful when you have a big shunt like that, but the doctor checked me and we are also going to take pictures [scans] today, so we make sure that I am fine.”
Also rejoining on Saturday under Super Rally rules is M-Sport Ford's Pierre-Louis Loubet who picked up significant suspension damage on Friday's second stage, although it has been confirmed that Hyundai Motorsport's Esapekka Lappi will play no further part in his home round after hitting a tree head on in an impact measuring 17g.