Thursday, September 21, 2023

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    Rovanpera throws down the gauntlet with shakedown lead in Finland

    A horde of fans flocked Rannankylä  to catch the Secto Rally Finland warm-up test close to the city Jyväskylä. The ambiance was exactly what is expected for the famous round of the world rally championship. 

    On the stage, Finnish star Kalle Rovanpera has shown intent on fending off his team-mate Elfyn Evans in the fight for victory this weekend.

    Rovanpera came out of the blocks blazing claiming the best time in shakedown on Thursday morning. 

    A eighth-tenths gap separated him and teammate Evans in the 4.48km test. 

    Rovanpera is on a bid to register his maiden home event victory. 

    For this weekend, he is banking on the rain to achieve his ambition.

    “First pass is not easy to be on pace. I am going to need to push a lot from outside being the first car on the road,” said Rovanpera.

    “But the feeling is quite good. We will need to have the rain for sure. We prefer the wet ,” he added. 

    Esapekka Lappi headed the Hyundai pack settling for third, 0.3seconds behind Evans. He was a tenth quicker than M-Sport Ford’s Ott Tanak who led in the first pass but later fell back after suffering some issues on the car. 

    Takamoto Katsuta finished fifth while Thierry Neuville sixth. Pierre-Loubet and Teemu Suninen followed in that order.

    One of the highlights of this year’s event is Jari-Matti Latvala’s return to the cockpit after three years away. 

    Latvala marked his comeback with a ninth position on the shakedown. 

    The rally proper revs off in the evening with a special stage of 3.48km at the center of Jyväskylä 

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