Kalle Rovanperä replaced the previous record holder Colin McRae at the age of 22
IMAGO/Nikos Katikis / IMAGO/PanoramiC
Kalle Rovanperä won the World Rally Championship one day after his 22nd birthday.
This makes the Finn the youngest world champion in history.
In the New Zealand rally around Auckland, Rovanperä had little trouble.
On the final power stage, the Toyota driver and his co-driver Jonne Halttunen not only defended their lead, but also extended it.
He crossed the finish line 34 seconds ahead of the previous world champion Sebastian Ogier (France/Toyota).
At the finish, Rovanperä fell into the arms of his father Harri, who also competed in the World Rally Championship between 1993 and 2006, but only won a stage himself, in 2001 in Sweden.
"What a birthday weekend," said Rovanperä. "The biggest thanks, of course, go to our team that built this rocket.
Also my sponsors, my family and my friends, who have been there from the start.«
Still in the lead despite the penalty
At the four-day rally in New Zealand, Rovanperä only took control on the second day.
While the period began unfavorably with a five-second rule-breaking penalty, his rivals received similar penalties.
Rovanperä took the lead on a challenging stretch of rain-soaked gravel roads through the Kaipara Hills north of Auckland.
He also increased the lead on Sunday, so that the world title was secured.
Rovanperä came to New Zealand with a 53-point lead over Ott Tänak (Estonia/Hyundai) in the world championship standings.
Now he is unassailable on 64 points with two competitions remaining in Spain and Japan.
This season, Rovanperä won six out of 17 stages.
At 22, he broke the record set by Scotsman Colin McRae, who won his first world title in 1995 at the age of 27.