Having your vehicle leave the road in rallying is one of the most dangerous positions a competitor could find themselves in alone in any form of motorsport, except for leaving the road during a motorcycle road race like the Isle of Man TT, but the risk is the same in both situations. Trees, cliffs, stone walls and sometimes even homes could lay just beyond the route’s edge. As a result, mistakes are punished harshly, and even the best in the sport are capable of making mistakes, like current World Rally Championship points leader Kalle Rovanperä.
Kalle Rovanperä has been on a tear this season, winning five of the eight rallies run so far. Last time out, Rovanperä was narrowly defeated in his hometown-based Rally Finland. The 21-year-old Finn seems set for revenge in this weekend’s Ypres Rally Belgium. However, after winning the first stage by two and a half seconds, Rovanperä’s Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 never made it to the end of the second stage.
Rovanperä was the first driver in the starting order for the second stage. He understeered through a left-hand kink and left the road about five and a half miles into the stage. The Yaris immediately went to a ditch and struck the end of an exposed culvert. The hybrid Rally1 car was pitched into a massive roll, leaving a huge cloud of dirt as it flew through the air. The Yaris came to rest upright, but the car was completely destroyed.
Rovanperä and his co-driver Jonne Halttunen were able to climb out of the car through the windshield — or, where the windshield used to be. Both were uninjured in the heavy crash, but their hopes of adding to their impressive wins tally were dashed on the first day. Though, Toyota still leads the rally regardless. After six of Friday’s eight stages, Elfyn Evans leads by 2.3 seconds over Hyundai’s Ott Tänak.