On October the 1st, Finland’s latest rally star turned 17. Just one day later, he sat and passed his driving test in Jyväskylä, home of Rally Finland. Normally, you have to be 18 to get a full licence in Finland, but incredibly the government allowed the son of former WRC winner Harri Rovanpera a special dispensation! The 17 year old will now make his WRC debut this weekend with M-Sport.
Kalle, who was not even two years old when father Harri won WRC Sweden, first shot to fame, as you WRC fans might remember, when he took to YouTube to showcase his talents in a Toyota Starlet- aged just 8!!
He has signed to drive a Ford Fiesta R5 in both Wales and Australia for Malcom Wilson’s M-Sport concern, and Wilson is already impressed: ““It’s so exciting to see a young guy like Kalle coming along. Is he the youngest driver [ever to compete for M-Sport]? Probably not, actually – I think Jari-Matti was about the same age when we started working with him. But the anticipation’s just the same and clearly, there’s a huge amount of natural talent with the kid. We’ve all watched these videos on YouTube of him starting aged eight and we saw him driving at the Bettega [Memorial Rallysprint] last year in a Fiesta World Rally Car – I have to say, that was very impressive.”
Elfyn Evans: “I was impressed from his first warm-up run, where I think he was fastest,” says Evans. “I don’t think there’s any secret that he’s done a lot of driving, but still, to get into a World Rally Car at the age of 16 and drive it like he did – well, it was very obvious he’s very talented. I don’t know what I was doing aged 15 or 16 – probably still dreaming of driving a World Rally Car! There’s no doubt he’s ready for the WRC though. It’s just incredible how young he still looks – people say I looked young when I started, but he definitely looks younger than me!”
Jari-Matti Latvala: “Kalle is certainly coming, but I think it will still take some time for him to drive the rallies and make the experience. He is quick though. Very quick……”
Kalle Rovanpera: “In my last year at school, I was only there for a month with all the tests and rallies,” he says. “There was no point to be there. Now it’s only rallying for me. I don’t do team sports, nothing like that. I drive every day, not always the rally car, sometimes the [motor] bike or the ATV or something. I don’t care – if it has an engine, I’ll drive it!”
Images from Red Bull