Rovanpera could make WRC debut on Rally GB
Sixteen-year-old Kalle Rovanpera will become the youngest driver ever to compete in the Finnish Championship this season – and his World Rally Championship debut at Wales Rally GB remains on course.
The governing body of Finnish motorsport confirmed last week that it would allow Rovanpera to compete in the main class of its field under an exceptional waiver. Normally drivers have to be 18 to compete in Finland.
Speculation that Rovanpera will contest his home round of the World Rally Championship – July’s Rally Finland – appears optimistic. Rovanpera’s father Harri pointed out that any such decision would lie with the FIA rather than the Finnish ASN. In addition to competing at home for the first time, Rovanpera Jr will continue with a full season in the Latvian Rally Championship.
“This is an exciting time for Kalle,” Rovanpera Sr told MN. “We want to stay with the Latvian Championship, we made a promise to them, they helped us by giving Kalle the international licence, and now we keep the promise by competing there. But we also have to say a very big thanks to Finland for allowing Kalle to become the youngest driver ever here.”
Rovanpera will stick with his Toni Gardemeister-run Skoda Fabia R5 – the same car he used in Latvia last year and won the opening round of this year’s series, last month’s Rally Aluksne, by more than a minute and a half in.
A precise programme for 2017 has yet to be agreed, but his times in Finland will be scrutinised as World Rally Championship team principals eye the son of the one-time Rally Sweden winner for a future seat.
“At the moment we’re not looking beyond the winter rallies,” said Harri. “After that we will decide about things. It’s then that we will talk about what we do for Rally GB.”
Rovanpera is 17 on October 1, meaning he would be legally allowed to drive on the UK roads and compete on the Deeside-based event.
“Rally GB would be big school for Kalle,” said his father. “Because of the weather, the rain and the mud, the conditions are always changing on that event – it is one of the most difficult rallies in the world. We have talked about this and we know we can do it, but we will decide what to do later in the year.”
Rovanpera’s next outing will be Rally Sarma in Latvia this weekend. His first possible Finnish outing comes the week after on SM Vaakuna Ralli in Mikkeli.
Rovanpera: rapid in Latvian series