Jari-Matti Latvala explains Kalle Rovanperä’s crash – “From hero to zero in one second”

Saturday morning was a grim one for the Toyota rally team in Portugal.
Jari-Matti Latvala and Takamoto Katsuta
Jari-Matti Latvala and Takamoto Katsuta. Photo by: Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT
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First, Kalle Rovanperä crashed out while leading, and on the following stage, Takamoto Katsuta broke his car’s rear suspension and ended up stranded. Before his retirement, Katsuta was third in the rally.

“It’s like what Marcus Grönholm once said, sometimes it’s ‘from hero to zero in one second.’ This again shows how quickly situations can change in rallying. It’s been a bad morning for us. But that’s the nature of the sport,” said Toyota team boss Jari-Matti Latvala.

Rovanperä has not had many crashes in his career, but now a mistake has occurred for the second time this season. In February in Sweden, Rovanperä also went off the road from the lead position.

“In both situations where Kalle went off, the pace was high and he was fighting for the win. It’s important to remember that when you race for the win, the risks are high. This morning Kalle set a time four seconds faster than anyone else and then went off on the next stage,” Latvala summarized.

“It wasn’t really a difficult spot where he went off. There’s a long straight followed by a short right. Probably the grip was poorer than he anticipated.”

This season, the Finnish star is competing only in selected WRC events. Rovanperä enters each rally with victory in mind, whereas last season he also had to consider the championship situation and couldn’t afford mistakes. This raises the question of whether Rovanperä’s focus is still intact when he isn’t contesting the full series.

Latvala emphasized that Rovanperä’s concentration and preparation are as intense as ever. However, the starting conditions for this season’s rallies are quite different from last year.

“Kalle’s focus is definitely different now. It’s different when you’re thinking about competing in the whole series and needing results. It could be in the background, knowing that you don’t need results for the series, so you just want to win,” Latvala admitted.

“It’s a double-edged sword. I know that Kalle definitely tried his best and put everything on the line. This time it didn’t work out.”

Latvala also noted that at the top level, mistakes inevitably happen when competing for rally wins.

“Kalle has had a few crashes. At some point, they just happen to everyone. Malcolm Wilson once told me, ‘Jari-Matti, you are the kind of driver who will always have two crashes per season,'” Latvala laughed.

“Everyone who races at the top level will have them. One or two crashes almost always occur each year. I certainly kept to that statistic in my own career.”

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