There is no end to Kalle Rovanperä’s ability to turn on the speed. The 19-year-old Toyota Gazoo driver and co-driver Jonne Halttunen shaved off time from their deficit to the leader, and leapfrogged six-times FIA World Rally Championship winners Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia to finish the eighth stage second quickest and move back into third place overall.
Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota Gazoo Racing) set their fifth scratch time in SS8 and edge out another 1.6 seconds over their rivals behind them. Evans now leads a hard-charging Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT) by 16.9 seconds and Rovanperä by 28 seconds.
All eyes are on the inter-team rivalry between Rovanperä and Ogier, as they’re both separated by just 1.6 seconds.
Said Rovanperä at the end of SS8: “It’s not easy, we had to make some changes on the road section because our front tyres were wearing out too much. I had to get the feeling at the beginning of the stage but now I think it’s a better set up for the tyres.”
Interestingly, Hyundai’s Craig Breen/Paul Nagle and Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul set the same stage time in SS8 as Breen begins mounting pressure on Neuville, who is only 8.1 seconds clear of the Irishmen.
Overall, Tänak is comfortable with an 11 second advantage over the chasing Toyota Yaris WRCs of Rovanperä and Ogier. Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (M-Sport Ford WRT) have shown great consistency in their performance thus far on Rally Sweden to hold fifth place overall (and only 5.8 seconds adrift of Ogier in fourth), while his team-mates Teemus Suninen/Jarmo Lehtinen are stationed in eighth overall.
Takamoto Katsuta/Daniel Barritt (Toyota Gazoo Racing) remain ninth overall, and moving closer to Suninen on the overall leaderboard.
The competitors next tackle Torsby Sprint 2 of 2.80km.
Top Ten after SS8:
01) E. Evans (Toyota Yaris WRC) – 58m 55.7s
02) O. Tänak (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +16.9s
03) K. Rovanperä (Toyota Yaris WRC) +28.0s
04) S. Ogier (Toyota Yaris WRC) +29.3s
05) E. Lappi (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +35.1s
06) T. Neuville (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +40.0s
07) C. Breen (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +48.1s
08) T. Suninen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +01m 14.0s
09) T. Katsuta (Toyota Yaris WRC) +01m 37.3s
10) J. Huttunen (Hyundai i20 R5) +03m 35.9s