Belgian Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) won the Central European Rally on Sunday, the penultimate event of the 2023 World Rally Championship, with Finnish Kalle Rovanperä, 2nd, winning the world title.
Rovanperä (Toyota) thus won his 2nd consecutive title at just 23 years old, displaying unprecedented precocity in the world rally championship.
“This year is even better than last year,” he declared, greeted at the finish line by his father Harri Rovanperä, himself a former rally driver. “I feel really good but I can't say much else,” he added with Finnish sobriety.
Rovanperä took advantage of the exit from the track on Saturday of Elfyn Evans, his teammate at Toyota who was the only one who could still challenge him for the title even if his chances were slim. He then just had to manage his race, letting Neuville race to victory.
The Finn has won a total of 11 rallies in this category, including three this season with only one retirement, paradoxically at home in Finland when he went off the road.
Attention for the last event, in Japan in three weeks, will now focus on the fight for 2nd place between Evans and Neuville who are separated by only 7 points.
Estonian Ott Tänak (M-Sport Ford) finished 3rd and Frenchman Sébastien Ogier, eight-time WRC world champion, 4th.