Kalle Rovanperä secures second WRC championship with Central European Rally win; Thierry Neuville dominates as season finale in Japan awaits.
Kalle Rovanperä has etched his name in the annals of World Rally Championship (WRC) history once again, becoming a two-time champion in dramatic fashion.
The 23-year-old Finnish sensation clinched his second consecutive WRC championship title by finishing second overall at the Central European Rally, a penultimate round of the 2023 season.
Rovanperä now joins the elite ranks of legendary WRC champions like Carlos Sainz, Walter Röhrl, and Miki Biasion as a two-time titleholder.
11:04 - 29.10.2023
MOTORSPORTS Suspense builds as Kalle Rovanpera nears WRC crown after closest rival Elfyn Evans crashes out
Kalle Rovanperä edges closer to his second consecutive WRC title as Elfyn Evans crashes, setting the stage for a thrilling conclusion.
Entering the Central European Rally with a 31-point lead over his Toyota Gazoo Racing teammate Elfyn Evans, Rovanperä had the crown within his reach.
All he needed was to maintain his advantage, and fate seemed to be on his side when Evans suffered a dramatic crash on Saturday morning. With his main rival out of contention, the path to victory was all but assured for the young Finnish sensation.
Rovanperä's journey to this historic moment began with a steady start to the 2023 season.
16:31 - 27.10.2023
Hyundai driver Esapekka Lappi faced unexpected challenges during the Central European Rally after a promising start.
However, he and his co-driver Jonne Halttunen hit their stride in May when they secured victory at Vodafone Rally de Portugal. From that point on, the dynamic duo rarely missed a beat, finishing outside the podium only twice throughout the season.
"I am feeling really good. I think this year was, for me personally, more important than last year. The competition was tighter, and we did a really good job. The biggest thank you, of course, goes to Jonne - he is also the world's best co-driver. I am going to enjoy this one more than the first one," said Rovanpera.
While Rovanperä's championship celebrations took center stage, Thierry Neuville's outstanding performance in a Hyundai i20 N should not be overlooked.
Neuville's victory at the Central European Rally was nothing short of impressive as he seized control on Saturday morning, ultimately outpacing Rovanperä by 57.6 seconds.
22:00 - 24.10.2023
Toyota Gazoo Racing aims for drivers' championship as they tackle the Central European Rally amid fierce competition between Rovanperä and Evans.
This marked Neuville's 19th career victory, a testament to his skill and consistency on the challenging asphalt roads of Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic.
Speaking of his achievement, Neuville noted, "Overall, we did a good job. We had good consistency which ultimately paid off. It was a team effort this weekend, and we did it, so we can be proud of that."
In a dramatic twist, Ott Tänak overcame a hydraulic failure on the penultimate day to secure third place, finishing almost two minutes behind the frontrunners in an M-Sport Ford Puma. Sébastien Ogier, despite suffering wheel damage on Friday, managed to claim fourth place, just ahead of his Toyota teammate Takamoto Katsuta.
16:36 - 23.10.2023
FIA Junior WRC's 2024 calendar unveiled, featuring a thrilling return to Secto Rally Finland, with Tanzania Prince Nyerere poised to represent Africa.
Teemu Suninen, Grégoire Munster, and Adrien Fourmaux rounded out the top eight, delivering thrilling performances throughout the event.
With the championship now concluded in Central Europe, all eyes turn to the final showdown in Asia at the FORUM8 Rally Japan next month. This asphalt event, set in Aichi, promises to be a thrilling conclusion to the WRC season, taking place from November 16th to 19th.