Rovanperä revels, Ogier galore

Rovanperä revels, Ogier galore

At the end of the morning’s three stages, which took place on wet roads, world champion Kalle Rovanperä leads the Central European Rally, ahead of Elfyn Evans and Thierry Neuville. Sébastien Ogier, who suffered a puncture during SS4 and “lost motivation”, is only eighth.

Thursday evening, after the first two special stages of the first round of the Central European Rally, which takes place in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic, Thierry Neuville held the lead ahead of Ott Tänak and Sébastien Ogier. One morning and three stages later, it is Kalle Rovanperä who is firmly in control, ahead of Elfyn Evans and Thierry Neuville.

A turnaround due in particular to the weather, which made the Czech roads soggy, where mud accumulated over the passages, and a few twists of fate. The Finnish world champion started the day perfectly by winning SS3, but it was still Neuville who was in the lead, despite visibility problems due to a damaged windshield. For Sébastien Ogier, on the other hand, all hope of victory had already vanished, due to a puncture which made him lose more than 41 seconds on the author of the fastest time.

Lappi makes a mistake, Evans intervenes

In the second special stages of the day, the French driver did not have a puncture, but he again lost 41 seconds to the winner, again Kalle Rovanperä. The Gapençais explained afterwards that he had “no motivation” and found himself in ninth place in the general classification. The world champion took the lead, taking advantage of several driving errors from Thierry Neuville. “The conditions are really, really difficult. The visibility is poor and I lost the car several times in the fast sections,” said the Belgian, while his Finnish rival admitted “to having been a little too careful”.

The third special of the morning allowed Rovanperä to extend his lead, as he completed it twelve seconds faster than Neuville. Third in the provisional classification, Esapekka Lappi was the victim of a road exit 1.2 kilometers after the start and had to abandon. It was ultimately Elfyn Evans who managed to get between Rovanperä and Neuville, 29 seconds behind the Finn and nine tenths ahead of the Belgian. After this SS5, the ranking of the first four is the same as that of the world championship. Sébastien Ogier, for his part, lost “only” 21 seconds and he will have to be content with fighting for a place in the Top 5. Three special stages are still on the program for Friday afternoon.

RALLYE – WRC / EUROPE CENTRALE
Ranking after 5 specials (out of 18) – Friday October 27, 2023
1- Kalle Rovanperä – Jonne Halttunen (FIN-FIN/Toyota) en 39’05″3
2- Elfyn Evans – Scott Martin (GBR-GBR/Toyota) à 29″2
3- Thierry Neuville – Martijn Wydaeghe (BEL-BEL/Hyundai) at 30″1
4- Ott Tänak – Martin Järveoja (EST-EST/Ford M-Sport) à 43″8
5- Takamoto Katsuta – Aaron Johnson (JAP-IRL/Toyota) à 1’17″5

7- Pierre-Louis Loubet – Benjamin Veillas (FRA-FRA/Ford M-Sport) at 1’31″7
8- Sébastien Ogier – Vincent Landais (FRA-FRA/Toyota) at 1’44″4

Special stage winners
Rovanperä : 3 (ES3, ES4, ES5)
Neuville : 1 (ES2)
Thanks : 1 (ES1)

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