Top 50 Drivers of 2022
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Top 50 Drivers of 2022

Autosport 2022 Top 50: #3 Kalle Rovanpera

1st in World Rally Championship

Autosport 2022 Top 50: #3 Kalle Rovanpera

A dominant run to a maiden World Rally Championship title, while smashing Colin McRae’s youngest-ever World Rally champion record by five years and 88 days, proved Kalle Rovanpera is indeed a very special talent. The 22-year-old Finn enjoyed a sensational season, displaying not only phenomenal speed but maturity well beyond his years to make history as he redefined the WRC title-winning formula.

Rovanpera was simply untouchable at times during a season where he claimed six wins and 70 fastest stage times, as the WRC welcomed new Rally1 hybrid regulations. After initially struggling in Monte Carlo, victories followed in Sweden, Croatia, Portugal, Kenya and Estonia. Rovanpera could have mathematically sewn up the title with four rounds to spare, such was his dominance.

PLUS: The key steps on Rovanpera's romp to a history-making WRC title

Crashes in Belgium and Greece proved Rovanpera is human and delayed the seemingly inevitable until Rally New Zealand, where he clinched the title in style, with a victory and a sixth powerstage win. The son of 2001 Rally Sweden winner Harri Rovanpera was crowned just one day after celebrating his 22nd birthday.

Rovanpera stood out from the rest particularly in the wet. Nobody could match him for pace in the new Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 hybrid when conditions became slippery. He was also master of the one-shot-showdown powerstage, where he racked up 50 of his 255 points.

The WRC’s new wonderkid also produced shades of the 21st century’s standout rally drivers, Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier, by breezing to five victories despite the disadvantage of starting first on the road. Three of his wins came at rallies where either Loeb or Ogier were among the field, by virtue of their part-time campaigns.

When it rained, as in Croatia, Rovanpera was virtually unstoppable in 2022 on his way to a record-breaking title

When it rained, as in Croatia, Rovanpera was virtually unstoppable in 2022 on his way to a record-breaking title

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Rovanpera’s performances left onlookers dumbfounded. These included Alister McRae, who witnessed his late brother’s youngest-champion record fall after 27 years in New Zealand.

PLUS: How trailblazer Kalle Rovanpera has ripped up the WRC record book

“We knew he was quick but the maturity and the ability this year has got a lot of people wondering how he is able to do it at that age,” enthuses McRae. “It’s pretty amazing to have that composure and the ability to push and set the times he sets, when at times he doesn’t need to do it. He just seems so comfortable in the car and in his own driving. He is doing things having just turned 22 that’s just not normal.

“I’m sure Colin would be looking in a bit of amazement at how good he actually is at such a young age. I think it’s a worry for everybody else in the championship.”

The WRC may have said goodbye to the Loeb and Ogier eras, but it appears that a new one of Rovanpera dominance has dawned.

All the signs point to Rovanpera becoming a WRC great in the years to come

All the signs point to Rovanpera becoming a WRC great in the years to come

Photo by: Toyota Racing

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