Kalle Rovanperä shifts responsibility to his teammates – “It should be their job”

Kalle Rovanperä's team, Toyota, has become the underdog in the WRC.
Kalle Rovanperä. Photo: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT
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Toyota has dominated the manufacturers’ championship in recent years, but this season Hyundai has made a strong comeback. As the season turned into its second half, Hyundai has a ten-point lead over Toyota in the manufacturers’ standings.

Check the WRC standings here.

Toyota’s original plan was for Kalle Rovanperä and Sebastien Ogier to alternate in the team’s third car, but they could be gathering points for the team in some individual races simultaneously. This first happened in the Rally Portugal in May.

However, Hyundai extended its lead in Portugal, as Rovanperä crashed out from the lead. Hyundai also managed to defeat Toyota in the subsequent Rally Sardinia.

Toyota has had to react to the situation. Rovanperä and Ogier will be driving for Toyota’s team points in the Rally Latvia and Rally Finland, alongside Elfyn Evans. The team’s Japanese driver, Takamoto Katsuta, won’t have to bear the pressure of manufacturers’ points in these rallies.

“The manufacturers’ championship is the most important for the team, as well as for me and Ogier. We are both driving partial seasons, so we are also chasing the manufacturers’ championship,” Rovanperä emphasizes to RallyJournal.com

“Hyundai has been too strong compared to our car and team. We have a lot of work to do to keep up with them. They will surely be very strong in the upcoming races.”

Watch the video below of Rovanperä testing Toyota’s Rally1 car in Central Finland on Tuesday. The article continues below the video.

The WRC points system was revamped for this season, and so far, Hyundai has taken advantage of the new system much better than Toyota. Nowadays, there are more points up for grabs on the final day of the rallies, and especially Hyundai stars Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak have excelled on “Super Sundays.”

What’s peculiar about the new system is that the overall winner of the competition doesn’t necessarily take the largest points haul from the rally weekend. For example, Rovanperä earned only one point more from his victorious weekend at the Safari Rally than Neuville, who finished fifth. In Portugal, Ogier, who won, collected one point less than Tänak, who was second.

At the Rally Poland at the end of June, Rovanperä took his second win of the season. He was also significantly sharper on Super Sunday, bringing valuable points to Toyota.

According to Rovanperä, there was no specific order from the team to do this.

“It’s pretty clear to me, too, having seen how the points system works now. You couldn’t see that at the beginning of the year.”

At the same time, Rovanperä also shifted responsibility to his teammates.

“Of course, it should be Elfyn’s and “Taka’s” (Takamoto Katsuta) job to bring Sunday points, as they need them for their own championships as well. That’s why points weren’t the main focus earlier. We were going for wins then. Now in Poland, we saw again that we have to push until Sunday to get all the points.

Rovanperä is not a fan of the new system. He thinks it’s unfair.

“Even if you don’t perform well over the weekend, you can still get almost half of what the rally winner, who did a better job, gets.”

“If I remember correctly, with the old points system, we would be far ahead of Hyundai in team points. It’s been pretty harsh how they’ve been able to grab salvage points on Sundays. We also have to try to take points on Sundays and take them away from them,” Rovanperä underlines.

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