Kalle Rovanpera wins Swedish Rally

Kalle Rovanpera scored his third career WRC win by 22.0sec after Toyota GR Yaris team-mate Elfyn Evans crashed onto a snowbank on Sunday's opening speed test and was forced to abandon his hybrid Yaris with an electric lighting problem on the final morning of the rally. With multi champions Ogier and Loeb not competing in this round of the championship it was a golden opportunity for remaining drivers to capitalize on the rare opportunity and bank a good haul of points with a fast and steady drive.

Five different drivers led the rally in copious amounts of Swedish snow during the opening day around Umeå in the most northerly Rally Sweden ever held. Rovanperä regained the initiative early on the second leg, but Evans remained very much in touch before his untimely exit. Evans had been fighting to overcome a 10sec penalty imposed by the stewards late on Saturday night when he slammed into a snowbank on the Sundays opening speed test.

After a disappointing opening round in Monte Carlo last month, Thierry Neuville took second place and provided a timely boost for the Hyundai Motorsport team. The Belgian had survived a couple of brushes with the snowbanks in his i20 N but he managed to repel a chasing Esapekka Lappi, back in Toyota Gazoo Racing's WRC line-up after a three-year absence. Lappi eventually finished 8.6sec behind Neuville to promote the Japanese marque into top spot in the manufacturer's championship, 24 points ahead of M-Sport Ford.

Takamoto Katsuta made it three Yaris cars in the top four a further 1min 48.8sec adrift. Gus Greensmith overcame a troubled opening leg, when a trip into the snow and gearbox problems delayed him, to finish fifth in an M-Sport Ford Puma. Oliver Solberg was in the lead battle on the opening day but throttle issues on his i20 N cost time on Saturday and he dropped to sixth. WRC2 winner Andreas Mikkelsen was seventh ahead of fellow support category drivers Ole Christian Veiby, Jari Huttunen and Egon Kaur.

Rovanperä was four months old in 2001 when his father triumphed on the Swedish Rally, the only pure winter fixture that year in a Peugeot 206 World Rally Car. Rovanperä now leads the 2022 Championship by 14 points after round two of 13. The championship now has a break before the asphalt Croatia Rally 21 - 24 April, based in Croatia's capital city, Zagreb.

2022 Drivers Championship after 2 of 13 rounds

1. Kalle Rovanera 46
2. Thierry Neuville 32
3. Sebastien Loeb 27
4. Gus Greensmith 20
5. Sebastien Ogier 19
6. Takamoto Karsuta 18
7. Craig Breen 16
8. Esapekka Lappi 15
9. Andreas Mikkelsen 12
10. Oliver Solberg 8

27th February, 2022