Kalle Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen have sealed their second world title after finishing the inaugural Central European Rally in second place.
The Finnish crew showcased an untouchable level of consistency this season to secure their respective titles with one rally to go.
Rovanperä won three rallies this season (Portugal, Estonia and Greece) compared to his six victories last year, but only finished once lower than fourth this season, during his home event at Rally Finland.
Meanwhile, Thierry Neuville and co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe won the Central European Rally. It’s the Belgian crew’s second win of the season and Neuville’s 19th career victory in the WRC.
The Belgian controlled the gap to Rovanperä who wasn’t taking any risks to secure the title. In the end, Neuville won by 57.6 seconds.
Ott Tänak completed a three-manufacturer podium, just under a minute behind Rovanperä. The Estonian lost the gear knob in the second stage of Sunday but managed to keep Sébastien Ogier 15.8 seconds behind.
Takamoto Katsuta held off Teemu Suninen in the battle for P5, followed by Grégoire Munster in P7.
Fourmaux fastest Rally2 driver, problems for Lindholm & Loubet
Adrien Fourmaux finished the rally in P8 overall. The Frenchman wasn’t registered in WRC2 this weekend but was the fastest driver in Rally2 machinery this weekend. Nicolas Ciamin won the WRC2 category and finished 17.3 seconds behind Fourmaux in P9.
Fourmaux and Ciamin overtook their countryman Pierre-Louis Loubet in the final stage as Loubet had to nurse a transmission problem for the final three stages. Loubet completed the top 10. Emil Lindholm, WRC2 leader after Saturday, had to retire on the road section to the first stage of Sunday after an alternator failure.
Evans wins PS – Mikkelsen WRC2 champion
Elfyn Evans salvaged five points from the Central European Rally after winning the Power Stage. The Welshman crashed out yesterday and returned today. He heads into the final round of the season with a 7-point advantage over Neuville in the battle for P2 in the drivers’ championship.
The WRC2 title has been decided at the Central European Rally after Andreas Mikkelsen won the Power Stage. Mikkelsen lost 11 minutes on Friday after an off. However, his title rivals Yohan Rossel (crashed on SS3) and Gus Greensmith couldn’t score enough points to take the decider to Japan.
All that remains for WRC in 2023 is the final round of the championship at Rally Japan from 16-19 November.
WRC Central European Rally 2023 – Results
|#||Drivers||Car||Time / Diff. to 1st|
|1.||Neuville / Wydaeghe||Hyundai i20 N Rally1||2:52:39.9|
|2.||Rovanperä / Halttunen||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1||+57.6|
|3.||Tänak / Järveoja||Ford Puma Rally1||+1:52.8|
|4.||Ogier / Landais||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1||+2:08.6|
|5.||Katsuta / Johnston||Toyota GR Yaris Rally1||+2:48.3|
|6.||Suninen / Markkula||Hyundai i20 N Rally1||+3:06.3|
|7.||Munster / Louka||Ford Puma Rally1||+4:22.3|
|8.||Fourmaux / Coria||Ford Fiesta Rally2||+11:35.8|
|9.||Ciamin / Roche||Skoda Fabia RS Rally2||+11:53.1|
|10.||Loubet / Veillas||Ford Puma Rally1||+12:04.3|
WRC 2023 Drivers’ Championship – Standings after Round 12/13 [Top 10]
WRC 2023 Manufacturers’ Championship – Standings after Round 12/13
|1.||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT||504|
|2.||Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT||399|
|3.||M-Sport Ford WRT||271|
Photo: Red Bull Content Pool