Rovanperä’s Stunning Victory for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing at Rally Poland

In an unexpected turn of events, Kalle Rovanperä secured a remarkable victory at Rally Poland, leading a one-two finish for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team, with teammate Elfyn Evans in second place.

Rovanperä, along with his co-driver Jonne Halttunen, was not initially scheduled to participate in Poland’s first FIA World Rally Championship round since 2017. However, following a road traffic collision involving their teammates Sébastien Ogier and Vincent Landais during reconnaissance, Rovanperä and Halttunen were called up on Tuesday to step in.

Despite no pre-event testing or the usual preparation, the reigning world champions conducted an intensive recce on Wednesday and Thursday to create pacenotes for the fast gravel stages. They had only three runs in shakedown to familiarize themselves with the GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID before the event’s start.

Initially placed fourth overall after a challenging first full loop of stages on Friday morning, Rovanperä quickly demonstrated his renowned speed on the flat-out gravel roads. By the end of Friday, he was just 1.8 seconds off the lead. He then dominated Saturday’s stages, winning the first two tests to claim the top spot on the leaderboard.

Rovanperä was the fastest in six out of seven stages on Saturday, taking a 9.4-second lead into Sunday. His primary competitor, Andreas Mikkelsen (Hyundai), fell behind after sustaining damage while trying to maintain pressure. With a third-fastest time in the rally-ending Power Stage, Rovanperä secured his 13th and perhaps most impressive WRC victory by 28.3 seconds, on his 69th start in the series.

Evans, with co-driver Scott Martin, also showcased a strong performance, remaining in contention for the win for much of the weekend. They were only 0.4 seconds behind their teammates by Saturday lunchtime but encountered a tyre issue in the afternoon loop that cost them several seconds, dropping them to third place. Evans fought back to reclaim second on Sunday morning, despite a tyre deflation in the Power Stage, which left him fourth in the Super Sunday classification. Nonetheless, Evans reduced his gap to the drivers’ championship leader to 15 points.

On his first rally in Poland, Takamoto Katsuta focused on building his confidence and familiarizing himself with the car on fast gravel. Despite challenging conditions and finishing eighth overall, he set strong times and gained valuable experience for future events.

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team gained the most points in the manufacturers’ championship, closing the gap to the leaders to just 10 points.

The GR Yaris Rally2 also performed impressively, securing a third consecutive WRC2 victory with Sami Pajari and Enni Mälkönen at the wheel, marking their second successive win in their Printsport-run car.


Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal):

“It’s incredible that Kalle and Jonne have been able to win this rally. When I called Kalle on Tuesday afternoon and asked him to drive here in Poland, I told him that I was not expecting him to win. I knew that his natural driving could at least get him inside the top five, which would still help us for the championship. I know it wasn’t the nicest way for a crew to start a rally with no preparation, so thanks to them for thinking about the team and doing everything to support and bringing us lots of points. Thanks also to Elfyn and Scott, who were also doing what they could to support Kalle and Jonne this weekend, and a 1-2 result could hardly be better. Elfyn was unfortunate not to score more points for the championship, but altogether it’s a positive result for us.”

Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69):

“It has been an amazing week and quite a tough week: we have been working hard and I feel quite tired now! With the limited preparation we had, it was not so easy on this kind of fast rally where you need to keep pushing. I think we did everything we could, working all the time with the tight schedule that we had and keeping to our plan on the stages, and it all paid off in the end. Sunday was still an important day with many kilometres and technical stages. We tried to keep the pace we had yesterday, be safe enough to bring home the win but also grab some more points. At the finish we managed to bring quite a lot of points for the team, which was the aim for us when we got the call from the team on Tuesday, so I think it was a good idea to come!”

Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33):

“At the end of the rally our overall position is good. The Sunday points are almost just as important and we tried to get as many as we could today. It was all going OK, but unfortunately we had an issue in the Power Stage with a puncture: there was a rock on the line and there was not a lot I could do. We only lost a few seconds, but with this points system a small issue like that can penalise you a lot, so it was disappointing to finish the rally this way. Our speed this weekend was not bad: Friday was good with the road position we had and Saturday was also going well until the tyre issue. It’s definitely the case that the feeling in the car is much better than in the previous rallies. We need to carry that forward, build on what we learned here and look to do a good job in Latvia.”

Takamoto Katsuta (Driver car 18):

“Congratulations Kalle, Jonne and the whole team for this result. For me, it has been a difficult rally. I was struggling a lot on Friday morning and this cost me afterwards, with a more difficult starting position for Saturday and Sunday. It was hard to do much on this final day and get the good result we wanted for the team. At the same time, I was learning a lot about how to drive well in this kind of condition. We had some good sections and some good feelings and we need to bring that to the next rally in Latvia, and also improve the things that were not so good so that we can be better there.”

Provisional Final Classification, Rally Poland:

Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) – 2h33m07.6s

Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) – +28.3s

Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) – +42.7s

Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) – +1m10.8s

Mārtiņš Sesks/Renārs Francis (Ford Puma Rally1) – +1m47.0s

Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) – +2m16.6s

Grégoire Munster/Louis Louka (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) – +2m18.0s

Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) – +2m26.7s

Sami Pajari/Enni Mälkönen (Toyota GR Yaris Rally2) – +7m50.7s

Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) – +8m12.7s

(Results as of 16:30 on Sunday. For the latest results, please visit

2024 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers After Round 7:

Thierry Neuville – 136 points

Elfyn Evans – 121 points

Ott Tänak – 115 points

Sébastien Ogier – 92 points

Adrien Fourmaux – 91 points

Kalle Rovanperä – 63 points

Takamoto Katsuta – 58 points

Andreas Mikkelsen – 29 points

Dani Sordo – 27 points

Esapekka Lappi – 23 points

2024 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers After Round 7:

Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team – 311 points

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team – 301 points

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team – 156 points

What’s Next?

Rally Latvia (July 18-21) marks a new event for the WRC, featuring high-speed gravel roads. The service park is located in Liepāja, with the rally beginning in Riga.