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Rovanpera overcomes penalty to claim maiden circuit race win


Kalle Rovanpera overcame a jump start penalty to claim a maiden circuit race win in only his fourth start in the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux series at Imola.

The two-time world rally champion, contesting a partial campaign in the one-make Porsche series, completed an impressive lights-to-flag victory from pole, but was made to work hard for his first circuit race win.

The factory Toyota World Rally Championship driver was handed a five-second penalty for jumping the start after leading the field from pole. However, the 23-year-old reeled off a series of fast laps during the remainer of the 30-minute contest to negate the penalty and take the win by 0.6s from Paul Meijer, with Benjamin Paque in third.

A mistake form Meijer on the penultimate lap gave Rovanpera just enough margin to take a memorable win.

“Today was definitely a really good race for us. We did some small set-up changes, nothing big but just to dial in the car a bit better and I could do my normal driving and the pace was really good,” said Rovanpera.

“The biggest thanks goes to the [Red Ant Racing] team as they have been working very hard pushing and learning with me, so that is really nice.

“It was definitely not easy [with the penalty] I was just trying to hit my marks all of the time and it went quite well but I needed to push even more. It was really good race from us.”

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

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

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

Rovanpera led from the start but was overtaken by Meijer at Tosa on lap 3 and was unable to retake the lead despite a safety car intervention.

“It was quite a tricky race but of course when you start from pole you cannot be happy finishing in P2, but then I just have to give it to Paul he was faster on race pace. I couldn’t do much more,” said Rovanpera.

Rovanpera’s success comes just a week after he and co-driver Jonne Halttunen won the seventh round of the WRC in Poland. The pair were drafted in last-minute to replace Sebastien Ogier and Vincent Landais, who were ruled out of the event after being involved in a road traffic accident. 

Rovanpera’s busy schedule continues with the Finn set to head to the Goodwood Festival of Speed next week.



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