Kalle Rovanpera says he needs to be ‘clever' so as not to get caught up in the hype that surrounds his home round of the FIA World Rally Championship and run the risk of doing anything silly.
A comprehensive 52.7s victory on Rally Estonia from Hyundai Motorsport's Thierry Neuville, combined with a maximum score on the rally-ending Power Stage, has propelled Rovanpera into a sizeable fifty-five point lead after eight rounds.
It was the 22-year-old's third straight win at the Tartu-based event – which is making way in the Championship calendar next year for newcomer Rally Latvia – and the expectation is that he should be able to carry that speed and winning momentum into this weekend's Secto Rally Finland.
Twelve months ago, he produced a battling display to finish second behind Ott Tanak. After the opening day Rovanpera – who was hampered by his road sweeping duties as the first car on the road – sat fourth behind team-mate Elfyn Evans and 21s shy of leader Tanak.
When rain arrived on Saturday morning Rovanpera was quickly on the move and established himself as Tanak's main rival by closing to within 8.4s of the Estonian with only four Sunday stages to navigate.
However, after losing the first stage by 1.9s to Tanak the reigning champion reached the conclusions that he was not going to win in his own backyard on pace alone and decided to settle for 18 points instead of risking it all in the pursuit of 25.
With the defence of his World Rally title on solid ground, he says a similar approach could be the best option this time around as well. “Our home rally always feels a bit different to every other rally, especially because it is in our hometown and because it's a home rally for the team as well,” explained Rovanpera.
“So, there is always more excitement and huge support from all the fans and I want to try my best to win it if we can. At the same time, we have to be clever with the championship in mind, not to waste the lead that we have built.
“Starting first on the road in Finland, it is never easy to match the speed of the quick drivers starting behind us, or catch up the time afterwards. Last year we lost around 20s on Friday and gained almost 15s back over the rest of the rally. But let's see what we can do this year,” he added.
Round 9 of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship, the WRC Secto Rally Finland runs from August 3-6.