A parallel conversation is currently taking place in the World Rally Championship and Formula 1.
Charles Leclerc’s strong start to his F1 season has already made him the only title contender in some quarters, despite only 13.6% of the season being complete.
The WRC has gained more ground – marginally at 15.4% – but there are already rumors that Kalle Rovanperä already has a hand on the trophy.
Toyota’s Flying Finn has a 14-point lead over Thierry Neuville after two rallies, while next-nearest challenger of the entire season, Gus Greensmith, sits on 20 points, less than half of Rovanperä.
Talked about preseason title favorite and teammate Elfyn Evans? He’s a massive 42 points behind. Rovanperä just couldn’t be bothered to fly to Zagreb for Rally Croatia this weekend and even if Evans masters both the Rally and the Power Stage he will still be over 10 points off the pace.
If M-Sport Ford’s Craig Breen, another likely contender, did the same, he would only draw level with Rovanperä.
So it’s clear that the start of the season for Rovanperä couldn’t have gone better, but after two very specialized championship rounds it’s far too early to practice carving the words ‘Kalle’ and ‘Rovanperä’ into a trophy.
Predictably, Rovanperä agrees when DirtFish reminds him how good his position is this early in the year.
“Yes, but it’s only two races anyway, so I don’t really want to think about it too much,” is Rovanperä’s response.
“I know like last year things can go haywire really quickly so I don’t want to expect too much.”
Valid. After all, Rovanperä was in the same position last year, heading into Croatia with a 3.5x narrower championship lead over Neuville before throwing his car off the road on stage one and being thrown back in the standings.
Things didn’t get much better from there either, as he was eliminated in both Portugal and Sardinia, leaving his title chances academic at best. Rallying is a fickle business.
“I’ll just try to keep going like this,” adds Rovanperä. “Try to be good and smart and get the points in all rallies.
“We can hopefully continue the same way and it will look good at some point I hope.”
If it doesn’t already look good.