Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota) has won Rally Sweden 2022 with a 22-second lead over Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) following an extraordinary show of strength in what has proven to be his natural habitat (ice and snow). On his return to the competition after a long hiatus, the also Finn, Esapekka Lappi (Toyota), has put out a great performance for third, 30.6 seconds adrift the winner.
Besides the overwhelming success of the team from Jyväskylä, which has officially opened its scoreboard in the hybrid era, the Yaris GR Rally1 of the Japanese Katsuta Takamoto has come near the podium with a fourth position.
This proficient victory, his third in the Premier Class of the World Rally Championship after Estonia and Greece 2021, places the young Finn at the head of the 2022 standings with 46 points, 14 more than Neuville, second. More importantly, the 21-year-old ‘child prodigy’ continues to assert his position in a speciality where he is called to achieve great things.
The definitive battle commenced this Sunday with a small 8.1-seconds difference between Rovanperä and Elfyn Evans. Everyone was in for a fierce fight between the two teammates after their intense fighting for first place on Saturday.
The Welshman, however, had to retire after going off track and ending up crashing against a snowbank in the first stage of the day (SS16). Bad luck for the world runner-up of the last two years for whom this is also the second consecutive withdrawal of the season.
Taking advantage of Evan’s misfortune, Neuville has risen from third to second position with a 23.0 seconds deficit. The Belgian driver has then tried to close the gap with Rovanperä to no avail.
Behind them, Lappi inherited third place at just 4.9 seconds behind Neuville. In the face of Rovanperä’s unmatched superiority, all the excitement has been in the fight for second place.
Jari-Matti Latvala’s team was hoping for Esapekka to hunt down the Hyundai in order to achieve a dream 1-2 but it was not to be. The racer from Saint Vith has been able to manage his tires extraordinarily well throughout the entire Rally Sweden 2022 and has taken a well-deserved second place.
Rovanperä, a rising star
Back to the hero of the weekend, Rovanperä has dominated the Scandinavian round with an iron fist. From the five different leaders of the initial stage on Friday, He grabbed the lead in the first stage of Saturday (SS8). From then on he remained in the lead up to the finish line of the Power Stage, where he finished second behind Tänak, but ahead of Neuville, third, by 0.4 seconds.
It seems that the 20-something Scandinavian racer, who already made history at Rally Estonia 2021 after becoming the youngest World Championship leader of all times, has been blessed by the gods of speed.
Evans & Tänak´s fiasco
Together with Evans), Ott Tänak (Hyundai) has been one of the great disappointments of the Scandinavian event. Like the Briton, the Tänak is having a disastrous start to the season with two consecutive withdrawals.
The Estonian, who said goodbay to the rally on Friday due to an issue with hybrid sistem, doesn’t seem to have found his footing since arriving in the South Korean team with the title of world champion 2019 under his arm. He seems to be jinxed behind the wheel of the Asian machine. A disappointing result for M-Sport as well. After winning the Monte Carlo Rally with Seb Loeb, the solitary fifth place of his substitute Gus Greensmith leaves a lot to be desired.
Images of Rally Sweden 2022: WRC.com