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Friday, June 21, 2024

The petrolhead obsession that drives WRC champion Rovanpera

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Rallying, circuit racing, drifting and starring in a hip-hop video are all actions in Kalle Rovanpera’s 2024 ‘hole yr’ calendar. It’s honest to say life is fairly good in the meanwhile for the reigning two-time World Rally champion, who has rewritten the document books.

The widespread denominator that hyperlinks all of those pursuits collectively, even his temporary dalliance into the world of Finnish hip-hop, is an unbridled ardour for automobiles. If a search was carried out to seek out the largest petrolhead presently competing in world motorsport, then Rovanpera has to enter the dialog.

“I’m positive out the entire rally drivers, I’m most into automobiles that aren’t rally automobiles, you already know like street automobiles and racing automobiles,” the Toyota WRC driver says in a particular version of Autosport’s Gravel Notes podcast.

“I simply take pleasure in automobiles lots. I’d say my major pastime is to construct automobiles, and naturally I don’t have the time and the abilities to make the automobiles myself, however I actually take pleasure in fascinated by the spec after I get a brand new automobile myself, like what sort of wheels I need and all of the small particulars.

“Once I see the automobile when it’s prepared, it is without doubt one of the largest joys I can get. I like street automobiles a lot. I like how they appear, and I like the way in which you possibly can specific your self with automobiles.”

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Rovanpera has taken this freedom of expression to a brand new stage this yr by starring as a welder-turned-driver in a hip-hop video for the ‘Rallikansa’ observe – which interprets to ‘Rally Crowd’ – by award profitable Finnish artists JVG. It’s a track that has been streamed greater than 4 million instances on Spotify.

Rovanpera’s partial WRC marketing campaign this yr is permitting him to take pleasure in his wider ardour for automobiles

Photograph by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Nevertheless it’s this ardour for automobiles that goes some method to clarify why Rovanpera has put collectively a petrolhead’s paradise of a yr, after deciding to conduct an element marketing campaign within the WRC “to recharge his batteries”. A spot of rallying mixed with a enterprise into circuit racing whereas additionally indulging his love of drifting, could be very interesting to the 23-year-old.

It’s maybe not stunning that one the brightest skills to hit the WRC levels in recent times has a love affair with all issues 4 wheels. Since he was aged seven, the son of WRC rally winner Harri Rovanpera has been driving a car of some kind. And it’s this extremely early begin to driving that has helped him gather WRC data for enjoyable.

After smashing the late Colin McRae’s youngest ever world champion document by 5 years and 88 days in 2022, Rovanpera joined an elite group of WRC legends Juha Kankkunen (1986-87), Miki Biasion (1988-89), Tommi Makinen (1996-1999), Sebastien Loeb (2004-2012) and Sebastien Ogier (2013-18, 2020-21) to efficiently defend their crown final yr.

“The way it began was all about enjoyable and this yr I’ve determined to do just a few extra enjoyable occasions and simply go driving with my associates”
Kalle Rovanpera

Rising up because the son of a WRC driver will definitely feed this ardour. That time is made emphatically when Rovanpera recollects his first rally reminiscence, one that will impress upon anyone with a love for automobiles.

“I believe my first rally reminiscence needs to be from a Rally Finland take a look at the place my dad was driving, and if I keep in mind rightly, it was in all probability a Peugeot 307 take a look at for him in possibly 2003 or 2004,” he explains. “I keep in mind it rather well as a result of I used to be really driving with him on the stage.

“My cousin was co-driving with him, however I used to be so small I used to be really sitting on my dad’s lap. Then we went on the stage, and naturally he was not driving full velocity. I used to be there and holding the steering wheel. I keep in mind some small issues from it and have seen some images.

“There’s fairly a joke about that. The entire day I used to be asking my dad to do a handbrake flip on the place the place they flip the automobile round. We acquired to the purpose, and I stated, ‘let’s do a handbrake’. And naturally he wanted to steer whereas pulling the handbrake, so he was not holding me, and I hit my head on the steering wheel. I simply rotated a gave him the thumbs up, and stated ‘let’s go once more’.”

Special relationship with Toyoda has enabled Rovanpera to go drifting this year

Particular relationship with Toyoda has enabled Rovanpera to go drifting this yr

Photograph by: Purple Bull Content material Pool

It appears Rovanpera Jr was destined to be wrestling rally machines by means of the world’s hardest roads. However, while you peel again the layers, rallying and being a manufacturing facility WRC driver is only one a part of this obsession. For now, it’s the day job.

Rallying is supplemented by Rovanpera’s extracurricular automotive actions which have been allowed to develop by being a manufacturing facility Toyota driver, having shaped a relationship with the Japanese producer’s automobile-obsessive chairman Akio Toyoda. This has quenched the 12-time WRC rally winner’s thirst for drifting much more, with Rovanpera leaping behind the wheel of Toyota Corolla and Supra drift automobiles, competing throughout Europe within the Drift Masters European Championship and the favored System Drift in Japan.

Drifting is broadly thought to be a little bit of an acquired style relating to motorsport, so how did this obsession begin and why does it make Rovanpera tick?

“Once I was youthful, I discussed that I needed to have a go at drifting,” he says. “I knew that I would really like it and I used to be following the game a bit and I used to be excited to strive some automobiles.

“I purchased my second street automobile, which was an S13 Nissan, and with actually small modifications you possibly can drift these automobiles a bit. I went drifting just a few instances with that after which I had the possibility to strive a professional drift automobile. I did some laps with none follow and it went rather well and after that I used to be like, ‘I want to do that extra.’

“For positive, it’s a unusual sport in some methods as a result of in just a few years it has been evolving lots. The competitors in drifting has gone so excessive. The automobiles are correct race automobiles, they’re actually quick. Many individuals suppose that you just don’t have grip since you need to slide, however the automobiles are as gripped up as a lot as attainable. We’ve a lot grip within the automobiles that it’s not simple to drive. It’s cool while you make it work.

“It’s good to be on it, as you might be pushing the automobile and the tyre the entire time. It’s good to be pushing the restrict of the grip lots and, because the automobile has a lot grip, it’s making an attempt to straighten the entire time. If you can also make it work, it’s enjoyable.

“The way it began was all about enjoyable and this yr I’ve determined to do just a few extra enjoyable occasions and simply go driving with my associates. When you’re simply banging doorways, that’s the most enjoyable you are able to do with the automobile.”

Rovanpera will have a special road-going Yaris named after him

Rovanpera can have a particular road-going Yaris named after him

To additional inflate his automobile tradition obsession, this yr Toyota has created restricted version bespoke road-going ‘Kalle Rovanpera’ and ‘Sebastien Ogier’ editions of the GR Yaris that the drivers have been actively concerned in creating. Little doubt one in all these will quickly make its manner into Rovanpera’s rising automobile assortment, which features a prized 1987 BMW M3 E30 – Tour De Corse version.

“Akio has fairly an analogous mindset [to me] and he enjoys automobiles lots – that is fairly good to see from a giant boss like this,” he provides. “To be concerned from the primary steps of the automobile and determine the settings and the small particulars you could select your self, it’s one thing actually wonderful and actually cool. I’ve to thank Toyota and Akio for this venture as a result of they’re actually obsessed with these form of issues. I believe the automobiles will probably be fairly uncommon.”

However this weekend Rovanpera, who has already tasted victory within the WRC’s well-known Safari Rally Kenya in March, will take his love of automobiles to uncharted waters – circuit racing. Already a drift king and rally stage-winning grasp, the subsequent problem is to race in the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux at Zandvoort – the house of System 1’s Dutch Grand Prix.

“I’m actually excited for my first time on the circuit and have that new problem. It’s new and attention-grabbing and that’s the reason I’ve the motivation to do it”
Kalle Rovanpera

Rovanpera has teamed up with Purple Ant Racing, managed by veteran Le Mans 24 Hours racer Marc Goossens, to contest 4 of the six rounds. It’s definitely a world away from hauling a GR Yaris by means of the Kenyan sand, a Finnish forest or the Acropolis’ unforgiving rocky terrain.

Taming the sleek circuit asphalt in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup automobile is simply one other one in all Rovanpera’s enjoyable challenges in his eyes. Such is his expertise, if Rovanpera can switch a portion of his abilities from rallying and drifting, he will probably be within the thick of the motion.

“I’m actually excited for my first time on the circuit and have that new problem, which will probably be actually tough – however that’s the level of it,” he says. “It’s new and attention-grabbing and that’s the reason I’ve the motivation to do it and see the way it goes.

“The primary take a look at I did went effectively and I believe my lap instances have been on an OK stage. After all, will probably be a protracted course of to get to the extent I need to be. It’s like all motorsport – you want the kilometres.

Rovanpera is also making his circuit racing debut this year in a Porsche

Rovanpera can be making his circuit racing debut this yr in a Porsche

“It’s actually cool, and the group is motivated to do effectively. Guys like Marc [Goossens] have a lot expertise and I believe we can have a pleasant programme. The plan is to introduce me to racing and see the way it works, and naturally we’re all motivated to have good outcomes. It’s not simple to know the place I will probably be, however after all each time you race you attempt to do your greatest.”

If you take a look at Rovanpera’s calendar you might be forgiven for pondering that it seems somewhat packed for somebody eager to recharge the batteries. However for Rovanpera – one in all motorsport’s true petrolheads – it’s fairly the other. That is how he relaxes and enjoys life.

“I can really feel it already that this yr is doing quite a lot of good for me,” he says. “I can really feel that I can relieve the stress that you just usually have doing the total yr if you find yourself combating for the championship.”

Hear under to the total candid interview with Rovanpera, the place the Finn reveals his WRC dream group, discusses the pondering behind his well-known stage finish quotes, his title-winning dance routines and the way he frightened System 1 stars Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard.

Rovanpera is feeling the benefits of not being involved in a WRC title fight this season

Rovanpera is feeling the advantages of not being concerned in a WRC title combat this season

Photograph by: Purple Bull Content material Pool



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