Rovanpera carries a sizeable eighty three point lead over Hyundai Motorsport’s Thierry Neuville as the Championship enters the second half of the season on this weekend’s Jyvaskyla-based Rally Finland.

The Toyota Gazoo Racing driver has been in utterly dominant form on all surfaces so far, triumphing at five of the seven rounds, including the snow of Rally Sweden and asphalt of Croatia Rally. Many expect the 21-year-old to carry that momentum onto home soil as he has returned perfect scores on three of the last four gravel counters at Rally de Portugal, Safari Rally Kenya, and July’s Rally Estonia.

Fuelling that assumption is how Rovanpera has kept himself in contention for victory on recent loose surface outings despite running first on the road on the opening leg given his number one position in the standings. The history books also show that Nordic drivers have enjoyed a stranglehold in the Finnish forests.

That dominance has been disrupted in recent seasons, though, with Wales’ Elfyn Evans winning last year, Ott Tanak in 2018 and again in 2019, and former World Rally Championship driver Kris Meeke adding his name to the trophy back in 2016 which he did in some style, recording an average speed of 78.7mph across the meeting to end up on the top step of the podium by close to half-a-minute.

“Rally Finland is, of course, a very special event for us, but I try to treat it and enjoy it just like any other,” said Rovanpera, whose involvement last year ended in retirement after he smashed head-on into a mound of stones on the second day and inflicted significant damage the front of his Yaris WRC.

“I don’t feel so much pressure because after our wins this year I don’t think we have anything to prove. Of course, we will have great support from the fans and I would like to try and win it for them if we can. Last year it was not so easy for us, so we will try do a better job this time.”

“We just need to prepare a bit better in the test before the event to make sure that we have a good set-up and feel really comfortable. Do that and I think we can be fast and really enjoy the weekend,” he added.

As for team boss Jari-Matti Latvala, who oversaw a one-two performance from Rovanpera and Evans on Rally Estonia last month, the target is simple. “It has to be to try and repeat that in Finland,” he said. “I’m sure there will be a lot of support for Kalle after his performances this year, and I know how that can give you a boost on your home event.”