Monday, July 22, 2024

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Rovanpera overcomes penalty to assert first round-robin victory

Kalle Rovanpera overcame a side-start penalty to take his first victory within the round-robin race, recording only his fourth victory within the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux series at Imola.

The two-time world rally champion, campaigning part-time within the Porsche series, claimed a formidable victory from pole position but needed to work hard to secure his first track race victory.

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The Toyota World Rally Championship factory driver was handed a five-second penalty for jumping out from the beginning after leading from pole position, however the 23-year-old put in a series of fast laps in the remainder of the 30-minute contest to erase the penalty and win by 0.6 seconds over Paul Meijer, with Benjamin Paque third.

Meijer's mistake on the penultimate lap gave Rovanpera enough of a bonus to assert a memorable victory.

“Today was definitely a really good race for us. We made a few small changes to the set-up, nothing major, but we just tuned the car a bit better and I could drive normally and the pace was really good,” said Rovanpera.

“The biggest thanks go to [Red Ant Racing] my team because all of them worked hard to motivate me and learn from me, so it's very nice.

“It definitely wasn’t easy” [with the penalty] I attempted to hit my points on a regular basis and it was going pretty much, but I needed to push myself even harder. It was a very good race from our side.”

Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo: McKlein / Motorsports images

The victory followed a second-place finish in Saturday’s opening race, for which Rovanpera also began from pole position.

Rovanpera led from the beginning, but was overtaken by Meijer on lap 3 in Tosa and was unable to regain the lead despite the protection automobile intervention.

“It was quite a difficult race, but of course when you start from pole position you can't be happy with second place, but I have to admit that Paul was faster in race pace. I couldn't have done anything more,” said Rovanpera.

Rovanpera’s success comes just every week after he and co-driver Jonne Halttunen won the seventh round of the WRC in Poland. The pair were called up on the last minute to switch Sebastien Ogier and Vincent Landais, who were sidelined after a road accident.

Rovanpera's busy schedule continues because the Finn heads to the Goodwood Festival of Speed ​​next week.

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