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Rovanpera yet to realise enormity of super-sub WRC Poland victory

Kalle Rovanpera says it will take time to realise the enormity of his latest World Rally Championship victory in Poland as a last-minute replacement with limited preparation.

Toyota’s reigning world champion was drafted in to replace Sebastien Ogier for the gravel rally after the eight-time world champion escaped serious injury in a road traffic crash while preparing pacenotes for the event.

Rovanpera was servicing his jet ski and co-driver Jonne Halttunen was getting a tattoo in Estonia when they received a call from Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala to jump on a flight to Poland on Tuesday night.

The pair headed to Poland without the usual preparation of a pre-event test or studying on-board videos beforehand and had to undergo a rushed recce of the stages. Despite the challenges, Rovanpera claimed victory by 28.3s from Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans.

“For sure, it [the win] doesn’t feel so different now because we have been working all of the time and it is just the result of the hard work but later on I will realise [what I have done].

“I’m just quite tired at the moment. I’m just happy to be here at the end it was quite tough.

“I have to say I wasn’t really expecting much and of course, every time you put the helmet on you try to do your best.

“I had a chance you always have a chance, but you have to count on yourself, but I knew it would be difficult for sure. You need to keep going and trying all the time.”

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

Photo by: Toyota Racing

Rovanpera admitted at times it was scary going into the stages without his usual more detailed preparation, but pinpointed overcoming tiredness as the toughest aspect of the week.

The 23-year-old revealed that he fell asleep on his laptop during the week after staying up late working on his pacenotes.   

“I think the biggest challenge was that I just had no sleep and already coming into the weekend I was quite tired,” he added.

“I didn’t sleep well the weekend before and on Monday, I was watching NHL finals with my friend and the next morning I was waking up for the recce.

“On the driving side, it was the first pass [of stages that were tricky] trying to push and leave a margin because there were a few places where we were surprised, which was expected. 

“It was not so easy to push hard as you need to choose where to take the risk.

“I have to say it was quite clever [the way we drove]. We didn’t make any mistakes, and everything went our way.”

Rovanpera will now head straight from Poland to Imola tonight for a Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux test at 8am on Monday morning.

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