Kalle Rovanperä has rallying virtually in his blood. His father Harri in his prime was factory driver for several teams. He even scored one victory in the FIA World Rally Championship (Sweden 2001).
When he was eight years old, Kalle was filmed drifting a small Toyota rally car through snowy forests like an expert. Years later, the video went viral on YouTube with today more than one million views.
Because Finnish law doesn’t allow participation in rallies before the age of 18 – until Kalle got an exemption from that rule – he went to Latvia, starting with rally sprints at the age of twelve. For the next couple of years, co-driver Risto Pietiläinen, not by chance father Harri’s former navigator, had to drive the road sections. That didn’t stop little Kalle from winning the Latvian Junior Championship in 2015, following it up with the main championship in 2016 and 2017, on both occasions driving a ŠKODA FABIA R5.
Meanwhile Finnish manager legend Timo Jouhki had taken over, in 2016 sending the teenager from Finland’s rally capital Jyväskylä to the Italian Rally Championship to get some experience on tarmac. During the Memorial Bettega, a rally show in Bologna, Rovanperä drove a World Rally Car (WRC), beating some factory drivers on his way to the final.
On October 2nd 2017, he passed his driving test, one day after his 17th birthday, courtesy to a waiver by the Finnish government. With this important paper in the pocket, Rovanperä was finally cleared to compete in international events. Jonne Halttunen became the new co-driver instead of veteran Risto Pietiläinen (then 50).
Rovanperä celebrated his debut in the FIA World Rally Championship with Wales Rally GB 2017, only three weeks after his 17th birthday. During the 2017 season’s final in Australia, he became the youngest driver ever to win a round of the WRC 2 category. In 2018, he won the WRC 2 rounds in Wales – only days after his 18th birthday – and Spain, finishing his first season at ŠKODA Motorsport in third overall of the WRC 2 Championship for Drivers. At Wales Rally GB 2019, Kalle Rovanperä again won the WRC 2 Pro category, thus securing the WRC 2 Pro drivers’ championship already two rounds before the season’s final.