Latvala expects Rovanpera to stay cool amid the pressures of the home rally


Rovanpera heads his home race as the favorite, aided by the best form of his fledgling WRC career after scooping his maiden win in Estonia, followed by a third in Ypres and an outstanding win last time at the Acropolis rally.

The Finland-based Toyota WRC team has won each of the last three Rally Finland with the current generation Yaris and will field five starters this weekend – with Esapekka Lappi celebrating a WRC second leg.

While expectations will be high to scoop another win as the event celebrates its 70th edition, Latvala believes his team will use pressure as a motivational tool.

“Of course there is always pressure at home,” said Latvala.

“We also have the other side, which is that you get more energy and more motivation from the home crowd and this will help you perform better because it encourages us and the drivers to do better.

“We have more pressure, but I feel like it’s more positive than negative.

“Kalle is an extremely cool guy. We saw in Greece that he cannot really withstand the pressure and that he is very good at handling his emotions.

“I’m not at all worried even though it’s a home rally as he has these really great qualities of being so cool and calm.

“Of course he could feel some pressure inside, but I’m not worried about it. I am confident that he will be fine.”

Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Photo by: Toyota Racing

For the 20-year-old Rovanpera, a win on home soil alongside the Finnish rally heroes Hannu Mikkola, Marcus Grönholm and Tommi Makinen would be a “big deal”, especially on the event’s 70th anniversary.

However, he is not overtaking himself and is expecting a close battle with the Hyundais, who have shown an improvement in pace in fast gravel rallies this year.

“I feel good. Of course it feels good now to have a few good rallies under my belt and a home rally is always a nice feeling,” said Rovanpera.

“I think there are a lot of expectations of us but we try to do a normal rally like anywhere in the world and try to get a good result like we always aim to do.

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“That would be a big deal [to win]. I think it’s always for every driver that the home rally is one of the most important. I think we’ll wait until Sunday to think about it.

“Of course this was a really good event for our team and our car before, but this year we’ve seen Hyundai improve in fast rallies so I think they will be quick there. I expect it to be a close fight. “

The Rally Finland starts on Friday with six special stages, including the first night stage of the event since 1994.

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