Every sport has their wunderkinds but lately, there have been a few in motorsports that are either ripping through records or making more experienced athletes look a little dull. MotoGP has Marc Marquez, who has 6 MotoGP titles to his name, won the championship at his first attempt at the age of 20 and arguably would have 7 had he not been injured and out for the majority of the season from the first round of 2020.
Then there’s Mr Max Verstappen who at the age of 18 won his first Grand Prix and has gone on to win many more in a car that is at least second best in the field. One of things that makes him such a special talent is his maturity, and combined with his gift for driving makes him a formidable force.
And now there’s another. Kalle Rovanperä is a Finnish Red Bull sponsored rally driver, driving for the Toyota Gazoo Racing team in the World Rally Championship and recently took his first podium at Rally Sweden and the title of youngest podium finisher at 20 years of age.
Kalle has motorsport, and in particular rallying, running through his veins. His father Harri Rovanperä was a successful rally driver having won a round in WRC back in 2001 and developed Kalle’s ability through dirt bikes, ATVs, from the age of three and just about any other kind of machinery required to be driven including cars from the age of six.
Because young drivers can’t compete in rallying until the age of 18 in Finland, Kalle competed mostly in Estonia in his (very) early years. His first race was at the age of ten and by 2015 he started to dominate with three titles in a row (2015-2017). His WRC wildcard appearances were also impressive and in the Australian round he finished 10th, and in the points.
2018 saw Kalle compete with Skoda in WRC2 with three podiums before landing in the big time in 2020 with one of the most storied rally teams, Toyota Gazoo Racing.
Currently Kalle sits in 4th place in the world championship and will be keen to build momentum at this weekend’s Rally Italia Sardegna. So often young rally stars come and go, almost as much as the manufacturers but hopefully Toyota give him time to grow, and maybe, just maybe Sébastien Loeb’s records will be in sight.