The celebrity reached the age of eight in a sign of modern times, but it would be at the age of 20 that he wrote the first chapter of a story that promises many other records in the world of rallying. This is Kalle Rovanpera, the big winner of the 2022 Rally Portugal and leader of the WRC World Cup.
Jyvaskyla has a population of just 144,000, but Finland’s third largest city can and should be proud to have drivers who know what it’s like to win the World Rally Championship. Tommi Makinen won four consecutive titles between 1996 and 1999 and, two years later, his compatriot Harry Rovanpera would win Rally Sweden, the first and only triumph of a career in which he also had 15 podiums and 77 special victories .
These were happy times in the Rovanpera household, because just four months earlier Kalle was born, who very early on showed the Finnish version of the cliche “the son of a fish can swim”. But in this case, fame even came before profit.
He started riding motorcycles at just three years old, at six he tried a car for the first time and at eight his face traveled the world. A video of young Kalle masterfully driving his father’s rally car on the dirt roads near his home went viral and people were quick to point him out as a future rally star.
“Special” driving license at 17 years old
They weren’t wrong. At 14, he took part in the first rally, in Estonia, but was only allowed to drive the super specials, while his father’s former co-driver, Risto Pietilainen, took the wheel on the remaining stages. After the first regional titles between 2015 and 2017, came the invitation to participate in the final phase of the WRC World 2017.
However, there was one formality that could ruin everything. Kalle did not have a driver’s license, which was compulsory to participate in the World Rally Championship, and a special license had to be requested from Finnish institutions. And the day after his 17th birthday, the young man died – how could he not? – in the driving test, in time to take part in two WRC events.
The first experience was at Rally GB, and in the second Kalle made history. At the wheel of a WRC2, he finished tenth in Australia and became the youngest driver to score in the World Championship, before beating the most publicized record.
Rovanpera won the 2021 Rally Estonia at the age of 20 years and 290 days, the youngest to do so in the 50-year history of the WRC World Cup, and he will triumph again on the Acropolis to close the championship in fourth position. place, a small taste of what was to come.
He stayed with the Toyota Gazzo Racing team for the new season, which was practically perfect. After opening fourth place in Monte Carlo, Rovanpera won in Finland, Croatia and now Portugal, leading the championship in exceptional fashion and becoming the main favorite for the title of World Champion.
Kalle has talent, he has speed and, oddly enough, he has a lot of experience at only 21 years old. It remains to be seen how far Rovanpera’s moniker will fly in the WRC world championship.