Harri Rovanpera 'unsure how heart is working' after son's maiden WRC win

Harri Rovanpera said he's unsure how his “heart is still working” after watching his son Kalle become the youngest ever winner in World Rally Championship history last Sunday in Estonia.

Harri Rovanpera 'unsure how heart is working' after son's maiden WRC win

Rovanpera Sr, a former factory SEAT, Peugeot and Mitsubishi WRC driver, was stage-side to witness his 20-year-old son score his record-breaking victory by 59.9s over Hyundai driver Craig Breen.

The 2001 Rally Sweden winner was in tears at the finish, having overseen Rovanpera Jr's rise up the rally pyramid to become a genuine challenger in rallying’s top tier.

After winning the 2019 WRC2 title with Skoda as an 18-year-old, Rovanpera joined the WRC’s top flight last year with Toyota and finished on the podium at the second attempt in Sweden.

This year he finished second on the Arctic Rally, also held on snow, but had endured a run of poor results prior to his breakthrough win on the fast Estonian gravel stages.

PLUS: How Finland’s newest rally hero made WRC history in Estonia

“It has been an incredible weekend, I can’t keep talking because I will cry all the time,” said Rovanpera Sr after the rally.

“It is wonderful after four bad events, but that [win] came at the right time.

“All the time you have to stop [on events] that is very disappointing, but now everything is changing I hope by the end of the season.

“I don’t know how my heart is still working - it was very hard [to watch].”

In contrast to his father, Kalle Rovanpera was far from a bundle of nerves and instead delivered a calm drive on Sunday, having initially hit the front on Friday before establishing a commanding lead on Saturday.

Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Photo by: Toyota Racing

The victory was set up by a remarkable drive on Saturday’s opening stage, in which he set a time 10s faster than his nearest rival Ott Tanak.

Reflecting on the achievement, Rovanpera Jr admitted it was special to claim the youngest-ever winner record from now Toyota WRC boss Jari-Matti Latvala, whose feat had stood since winning in Sweden for Ford in 2008, aged 22.

“The feeling was nice in the car and I didn’t feel much pressure it was quite clam in the car, it was enjoyable,” he said.

“When we finished it was a really big relief and you finally get the win and you feel the pressure releasing a bit, so for sure that is a nice feeling.

“It is something special, but it is not something I think about much, all these records. But of course it was nice when Jari-Matti came to say to me that he wanted me to be the guy that is taking his record from him, so for sure that means something to me.

Asked if he shed any tears he replied: “I don’t think so, I think dad was doing that part quite well.”

Toyota team principal Latvala believed Rovanpera’s first win was due this year and said he was happy to concede his record to his young charger.

“Looking at the performance of Kalle already at the end of 2020, you could feel that it was coming,” said Latvala.

“I said at the start of this season there would be two events where Kalle had a high chance of taking the victory at Arctic Rally Finland and Rally Estonia.

“After four quite demanding rallies for Kalle, I think his motivation was 120% and the passion to get your first victory you could see, he was very committed from shakedown onwards.

“I’m really pleased to see his victory and I was really happy he was breaking my record as we can keep the Finnish tradition of youngest ever winners in the WRC.”

shares
comments

Related video

How Finland’s newest rally hero made WRC history in Estonia
Previous article

How Finland’s newest rally hero made WRC history in Estonia

Next article

WRC Estonia: The Good, The Bad and a Record-breaker

WRC Estonia: The Good, The Bad and a Record-breaker
How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master Plus

How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master

He may only be contesting a part-time campaign in the World Rally Championship these days, but Sebastien Ogier underlined that he's lost none of his speed in the 2023 season opener. Storming to yet another victory on the Monte Carlo Rally, the eight-time world champion rewrote the history books again as Toyota served notice of its intentions with a crushing 1-2

WRC
Jan 23, 2023
How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling Plus

How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling

Audi should have been invincible in the snowy conditions that typically greeted the World Rally Championship paddock in Monte Carlo. But unexpectedly warm weather for the 1983 season opener, combined with some left-field thinking from the Lancia crew turned the tables. Forty years on, team boss Cesare Fiorio reflects on a smash and grab

WRC
Jan 21, 2023
Why M-Sport has pinned all its efforts on a WRC reunion Plus

Why M-Sport has pinned all its efforts on a WRC reunion

M-Sport had a disastrous 2022 with its Rally1 Ford Pumas following Sebastien Loeb’s first-time-out win on the Monte. But now things are looking up with 2019 world champion Ott Tanak leading its attack, and the Cumbrian operation has optimism that it can challenge for a first title since Sebastien Ogier's departure at the end of 2018

WRC
Jan 19, 2023
The contenders seeking to take Rovanpera's WRC crown Plus

The contenders seeking to take Rovanpera's WRC crown

As Kalle Rovanpera begins his World Rally Championship title defence in Monte Carlo, the Finn knows he has a target on his back. But who is best placed to knock the Toyota ace off his perch?

WRC
Jan 19, 2023
Why Rovanpera is anticipating a fight to defend his WRC title Plus

Why Rovanpera is anticipating a fight to defend his WRC title

Question: what could be harder than becoming the youngest-ever World Rally champion? Answer: becoming the youngest-ever two-time World Rally champion. That's quite the challenge facing Toyota's Kalle Rovanpera in 2022, particularly against rejuvenated opposition in the second year of the WRC's hybrid regulations

WRC
Jan 18, 2023
From F1 to WRC: Why Hyundai's new boss could be an inspired signing Plus

From F1 to WRC: Why Hyundai's new boss could be an inspired signing

OPINION: New Hyundai WRC team boss Cyril Abiteboul admits he’s got a lot to learn as he leads the marque's efforts to dethrone Toyota. But could his Formula 1 experience and evident strengths mean he turns out to be an inspired choice?

WRC
Jan 18, 2023
The ultimate rally car project the WRC is glad COVID killed Plus

The ultimate rally car project the WRC is glad COVID killed

Toyota was unstoppable in the 2021 World Rally Championship, with an excellent 75% strike rate from 12 rallies. But in a scary proposition for its rivals, the Japanese marque had built a car for the final year of the previous regulations set which it believes was much faster and could feasibly have crushed the opposition completely. Here the story of its mothballed world-beater

WRC
Jan 1, 2023
Autosport writers' most memorable moments of 2022 Plus

Autosport writers' most memorable moments of 2022

The season just gone was a memorable one for many of our staff writers, who are fortunate enough to cover motorsport around the world. Here are our picks of the best (and in some cases, most eventful) from 2022

Formula 1
Dec 31, 2022