Kalle Rovanperä’s amazing feat didn’t surprise everyone – “There was clearly time to work”

Kalle Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen achieved a remarkable performance last weekend in Rally Poland.
Kalle Rovanperä Adrien Fourmaux Jari-Matti Latvala
Kalle Rovanperä (left), Jari-Matti Latvala, and Adrien Fourmaux sprayed champagne at the end of rally poland. Photo: M-Sport Ford WRT
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Rovanperä and Halttunen joined the competition on short notice without any prior preparation. The Finnish stars of Toyota arrived at the rally location late on Tuesday evening and started recce only on Wednesday morning – a day later than the other crews.

Rovanperä and Halttunen worked a 14-hour day in the car on Wednesday making pace notes. They continued on Thursday, noting two special stages between the morning shakedown and the evening’s super special stage.

Rovanperä was still finding his speed on Friday, but on Saturday he took the lead in the gravel rally. On Sunday, he and Halttunen were celebrated as the rally winners in Mikołajki.

Rovanperä’s achievement without proper preparation has been highly praised in rally circles. But not everyone was surprised by the Toyota star’s feat.

“It’s not really surprising. The timing for the reconnaissance was quite relaxed for us, and there wasn’t much to do on Thursday between the shakedown and the super special. So there was clearly time to work well, even with one less day,” said M-Sport Ford’s Adrien Fourmaux, according to the French website Rallye Sport.

“Moreover, the days ended quite early, unlike in Sardinia for example, so it was possible to do a lot of extra work in the evening.”

Fourmaux, who finished third in rally poland, also emphasised that Rovanperä is an extremely talented driver.

“He is a guy who is a double world champion, knows his car very well, and was starting from quite far back on the road.” Fourmaux said.

There was another sensation in Rally Poland. Martins Sesks, debuting in M-Sport’s Ford Puma Rally1 car, was able to set excellent times even though his car did not have a hybrid unit.

Fourmaux expected a strong performance from the Latvian driver.

“Martiņs grew up on roads with a fairly similar profile and has always been very competitive in fast rallies. He had already driven here twice and won last year. He is a driver who started driving at the age of 16 and has never stopped since.” Fourmaux explained.

“I expected him to be very fast, and I am not surprised. And it must also be said that it is easier to drive a car without a hybrid.”

In two weeks, Sesks will get to compete on his practically home roads in the Rally Latvia. The 24-year-old Sesks is from Liepāja, which serves as the rally’s central location, and he has also won the Latvian ERC rally for the past two years.

“In Latvia, he will normally be even faster if he adapts well to the hybrid. Starting from behind, he will definitely be at the front in two weeks. I hope to fight for the top positions with him.” Fourmaux mused.

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