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Rally: youngest world champion at 22, Kalle Rovanperä joins the line of "Flying Finns"


Winner in New Zealand, the son of Harri Rovanperä, WRC driver in the 1990s and 2000s, is the new prodigy of the specialty.

There was Ari Vatanen, Marcus Grönholm, and Tommi Mäkinen.

There will now be Kalle Rovanperä among the great names of Finnish rally drivers.

Became this Sunday, at 22 years and a day, the youngest world rally champion, he beat in New Zealand, with a lot of panache, new records of precocity.

By winning his sixth rally this season, Rovanperä won ahead of the two previous world champions, Sébastien Ogier, eight times titled between 2013 and 2021, but who does not participate in the championship as a whole and the Estonian Ott Tänak, crowned in 2019. The smiling young ogre, worthy heir to the "Flying Finns" of the last century, now has a 64-point lead over Tänak and can no longer be caught, two rounds from the end of the season.

“It's a big relief, exulted the young man after a short dance on the roof of his Toyota Yaris.

That's it, we made it!

I had to wait a bit, there were some tough rallies, but above all I have to thank the whole team for designing this rocket,” he added before stepping onto the podium.

“We are witnessing the writing of a page of history,” smiled Ogier, his teammate, a few minutes earlier.

The previous record was previously held by Scotsman Colin McRae, crowned in 1995 at the age of 27.

As a child, his father already took him to drive, sitting on his knees

This supreme reward marks the apotheosis of the son of Harri Rovanperä, 56, who had won a single rally round (Sweden, 2001), at the wheel of a Peugeot 206 WRC, a few months after the birth of his prodigy son.

The latter got to know the steering wheel at a very young age.

As a child, his father already took him to drive, sitting on his knees.

“He was my first teacher.

He taught me that the car had a steering wheel, a throttle and a clutch, then told me to get on it,” Kalle said in an interview on the Red Bull website, which has been following him since 2016.

On YouTube and Dailymotion, there are videos – which have gone viral – of the blonde with blue eyes at the wheel, on the snow or in the forest, at just eight years old.

By way of comparison, for lack of means, Ogier only discovered the discipline at the age of 22.

Ready to run to the gates of adolescence, the young Kalle however comes up against a major obstacle, Finnish law does not allow him to drive.

He therefore chose to go to Latvia, on the other side of the Gulf of Finland, where a driving license is not required to take part in car races, provided that the adult co-driver takes the wheel during liaisons on the road, between two special stages.

The native of Jyväskylä, epicenter of the legendary rally in Finland, quickly asserted himself and won three consecutive titles in the Latvian championship, from 2015 to 2017. The first precocity record in a long list.

The youngest driver to score points (Australia 2017), he then took the wheel of the Toyota Yaris WRC in 2020, which made him the youngest official driver (19 years old) in the WRC.

In 2021, he climbs on the second step during the Arctic Rally, at his home in Finland, taking the lead in the provisional general classification of the championship.

He later became the youngest winner of a rally at 20 years and 291 days during the rally in Estonia, dethroning his compatriot and ex-driver Jari-Matti Latvala, now his boss at Toyota Racing, who pays tribute to him: “It's also important for Finland, because we've been waiting for this for twenty years.

Kalle is a superhero.

The last Finnish world champion remained Marcus Grönholm, in 2002.

Source: leparis

All sports articles on 2022-10-02

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