Rally Estonia: Rovanperä wins first career rally, Tänak takes power stage
This year's installment of Rally Estonia wrapped up on Sunday with Finnish driver Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota) claiming his first career victory. Estonian star Ott Tänak's (Hyundai) streak of bad luck continued with tire failure on Friday knocking him out of the top 10. He was able to recoup some of the losses by winning the power stage on Sunday to collect five points in the standings.
Rovanperä took hold of the top position after Thursday's short opening stage, in which he finished fastest. He maintained his lead in the second day ahead of Hyundai drivers Craig Breen and Thierry Neuville. Last year's winner and Estonian star Ott Tänak (Hyundai) was forced to retire on Friday after two of his tires punctured, knocking him out of competition for high positions at the rally. The Estonian was still able to rattle off 11 stage wins with his aggressive style.
Rovanperä went into the rally's final day on Sunday with a 50-second lead ahead of Breen and was solid throughout the day, maintaining distance ahead of the rest of the pack to take his first career rally victory.
Hyundai's goal of trying to keep seven-time world champion Sebastien Ogier (Toyota) from reaching the podium worked out as Hyundai claimed the other podium places with Breen 59.9 seconds behind Rovanperä and Thierry Neuville 1:12.4 behind.
Ogier still sits comfortably atop the overall season drivers' rankings with 148 points with teammate Elfyn Evans second at 111 points. Neuville is third with 96 points, followed by the fresh champion Rovanperä with 82 points. Tänak is at fifth with 74 points, having not received any points from a total of four rally's this season. He has gained a total of 14 points from the powerstages of those rallys, however.
Former prime minister Jüri Ratas (Center) was among those voicing their support for the event and drivers, claiming on social media that Estonia is "the" rally country.
#Estonia is the #rally country. All #WRC teams and fans are welcome #back already in 2022 Congrats on historical win of @KalleRovanpera & @JonneHalttunen to all #Finnish friends Good luck, @OttTanak & @MartinJarveoja pic.twitter.com/MJS8EgUuoA— Jüri Ratas (@ratasjuri) July 18, 2021
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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste