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Rovanpera overcomes penalty to claim maiden circuit race win

The reigning world rally champion gets off the mark in circuit racing after a stunning drive  

Kalle Rovanpera

Kalle Rovanpera

Photo by: Porsche

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

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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