Rovanpera glad tough WRC Sardinia weekend is over

Kalle Rovanpera admitted he was glad to exit a tough Rally Sardinia having executed a clever strategy to extend his World Rally Championship lead.

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The Toyota driver headed into the gravel event off the back of three consecutive wins, with two of those coming from being first on the road.

However, Sardinia's rough roads coupled with scorching temperatures provided a much tougher challenge for Rovanpera given his road position.

Rovanpera struggled to match the outright pace of his rivals and was lucky to survive a scare on Stage 4 that ripped a large section of the rear wing from his GR Yaris.

Despite struggling to feel comfortable on the loose stages, he managed to reach the finish in fifth place, while claiming four bonus points on the final powerstage.

It was enough to extend his championship lead over Thierry Neuville to 55 points after the Hyundai driver left Sardinia with only five powerstage points. Neuville lost two minutes to a transmission issue on Friday, before rolling his i20 N into retirement on Saturday.

"Of course, we knew really well that it was going to be really important to have good points and if you can get more than Thierry that is already enough," said Rovanpera.

"The only goal for the final day was to gain some points on the powerstage and we picked up four points and fifth place in the rally.

"We knew that we just needed to be clever and we did that and we got more points than Thierry, so we can be quite happy with that.

"I was a bit disappointed with the feeling of the car on the last stage.

"I was struggling a lot with the car and fighting some issues with the steering which was really rough. I had some moments and mistakes so for sure I couldn't be fully happy.

"This was a tough weekend and I'm glad it is over."

Rovanpera was the best placed Toyota at the event, ahead of Takamoto Katsuta, after fellow teammates Elfyn Evans and Esapekka Lappi both encountered problems.

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Evans was forced to retire from the lead on Friday due to a water leak, before a rear suspension issue put him out of Saturday's action. The Welshman did rejoin the rally on Sunday to claim three powerstage points.

Lappi, who returned to the third car in place of the Le Mans-bound Sebastien Ogier, led heading into Saturday before crashing out on Stage 10. The Finn returned to pick up two points on the final stage.

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