Rovanperä in front, Hyundais behind

Finn Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota) is in the lead on Friday night after the first day of eight stages in the Croatian rally, overtaking two Hyundai drivers – Terrier Noivil of Belgium and Otta Tänak of Estonia, by more than a minute each.

The 21-year-old Rovanpera, the winner of the previous Swedish Rally and the leader of the World Cup, took the lead, very winding, very narrow, very wet and often cunning, as the asphalt was dirty or damaged in many stages.

He did very well despite the slight heat and showed six of the best times out of eight. Neuwil and Tänak resisted quite well, but the Belgian was sentenced in the morning to 40 seconds for a generator failure, which forced him and his co-driver to push his car 800 meters to bring it. back to the service park.

The two men arrived tired at the checkpoint with a delay of four minutes. The effort without which they would have done well after a very intense morning, but they had retained the most important, this tentative second place, coveted by their teammate Tänak, the 2019 world champion.

Neivill finished the afternoon better by setting zero time on the SS8 (9 km), the shortest on the day of the marathon (120 km), which Rovanpera completed in idle, with satisfaction for a job well done.

– Solberg’s latest better than Lubett and Furmo –

His teammate Elfin Evans was less successful. Losing more than a minute after a puncture in the first special race, he had some fears as he took 15th to 6th place on the first day of the day, more than two minutes from the leader, and there are 12 specials left on the menu for this difficult rally.

In Croatia, Sebastiene Leb, the winner of the January Monte Carlo Rally, and Sebastien’s Ojère, the reigning world champion, are not in the WRC’s “partial withdrawal”.

For two other young Frenchmen who will one day aspire to their success, this Croatian weekend started unsuccessfully: Pierre Louis Lübé crashed three times in the first two special races when he had only two spare wheels; Adriens Fourmaux missed SS3’s first turn and had to stop there, just like Loubet.

The great operation of the day was performed by another young rider, Oliver Solberg (Hyundai), a very talented offspring of the 2003 world champion, the very popular 2003 world champion and the former great Leb rival Peter. On Friday night, he finished 5th overall, avoiding all the pitfalls of that long rally day.

Eight new special stages (SS9 to SS16) are scheduled for Saturday, ie 116 km, and four more on Sunday morning (SS17 to SS20) to complete this 3rd round in 2022.

Georgie Collins

"Falls down a lot. Writer. Passionate alcohol maven. Future teen idol. Hardcore music practitioner. Food fanatic. Devoted travel fan."

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