Ro­van­pera could make WRC de­but on Rally GB

Motor Sport News - - Rally News -

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

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