The Toyota driver finished a distant fourth in the first gravel round of season last weekend, 1m55.3s adrift of rally winner and team-mate Sebastien Ogier.

Rovanpera was faced with the challenge of starting second on the dusty gravel stages on Friday, before becoming the effective road sweeper during the morning loop after passing an ailing Ott Tanak who was suffering from a turbo failure.

The advanced road position compromised his weekend tyre strategy in a bid to limit the time loss to 59.7s come the end of Friday, which the Finn admitted was better than he initially anticipated.

Facing the prospect of being unable to challenge the lead group, Rovanpera focused on trying to snatch the five bonus points in the rally ending powerstage. However, a rare mistake from the 22-year-old resulted in a glancing blow with a tree that ripped part of his rear win from his GR Yaris and comprised his run.

The time was still good enough for fourth and two bonus points, meaning Rovanpera left Mexico third in the championship and four points behind leader Ogier, who is contesting a partial season.

Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

“It was a difficult weekend to be honest,” said Rovanpera. “I lost out of the fight on Friday opening the road really and then we were bit behind all the time with the starting place for the rest of the weekend.

“I was hoping for a bit more from the powerstage. I was pushing really hard and tried everything we could, but we lost the rear wing running a bit wide and after that I didn’t have the pace anymore without the rear wing.

“From opening the road, this is quite okay points, so we tried our best and we just have to take what we can.”

Rovanpera has today announced that he will bolster his 2023 schedule with a part campaign in the Drift Masters European Championship, driving a self-run Toyota GR Supra.

Drifting is among Rovanpera’s hobbies and last year he made his debut in the championship, competing at Ireland’s Mondello Park circuit.

Rovanpera will contest four drift events this season in Sweden, Finland, Germany and Poland, beginning with an outing in Sweden from 9-10 June.

“I have a chance to drive four out of six Drift Masters European Championship races this year," read a social media post from Rovanpera. “Gonna be busy but a fun year.”

2023-03-22T14:21:41Z dg43tfdfdgfd