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Elfyn Evans Congratulates Kalle Rovanpera As World Title Chase Ends


By Paul Jones

Elfyn Evans has congratulated Kalle Rovanpera after the Finnish driver retained his World Rally Championship title.

Welsh driver Evans conceded his race for the title was over at the weekend when Rovanpera’s main rival retired on Saturday from the Central European Rally, the penultimate event of the season.

Rovanpera started the day 36.4 seconds ahead of Thierry Neuville but finished it 26.2sec behind the Belgian after easing off, after Evans hit a barn on the day’s third stage, the 11th overall.

“We’ll try again next year, but I wish the guys the best,” said Evans.

“In fairness, Kalle was very strong on Friday and we didn’t have the pace to follow him.

“After that of course we continued to try but it didn’t work out this time and sometimes that’s the way it goes.

“They’ve done an incredible season, so well done to those guys.”

Rovanpera had been virtually untouchable in the Czech rain and mud the day before as he built up a 36-second lead over Hyundai’s Neuville in this new addition to the WRC calendar staged over three countries — Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic.

On Saturday, Evans gained time on the first two stages in Austria.

After the race crossed into Bavaria, Rovanpera spun, but the Evans drove into a farm building.

Evans went into the week 31 points adrift in the standings.

Rovanpera said: “It’s a real shame for Elfyn and (co-driver) Scott (Martin). They put on a good fight and it would have been really tricky for us to keep pushing,” said Rovanpera.

The 34-year-old Welshman, twice a WRC runner-up in 2020 and 2021, restarted the final day and won the final power stage to collect a potentially crucial five bonus points.

Evans with 191 will now head to the final round in Japan, 16-19 November, aiming to hold onto second spot in the championship ahead of Neuville, who took victory at CER.

FIA World Rally Championship standings (provisional, after Central European Rally)

1. Kalle Rovanpera (Finland) Toyota, 235 points

2. Elfyn Evans (Great Britain) Toyota, 191 points

3. Thierry Neuville (Belgium) Hyundai, 184 points

4. Ott Tanak (Estonia) Hyundai, 162 points

5. Sebastien Ogier (France) Toyota, 114 points


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