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Kalle Rovanpera secures 2020 Toyota World Rally Championship drive

Kalle Rovanpera will step up to a Toyota works seat next season, making him the youngest ever full-time factory driver in the World Rally Championship, Autosport has learned

The 18-year-old's management will invoke a clause in his two-year Skoda deal to depart his current employer at the end of the year.

Autosport's sources have indicated Rovanpera will drive a third Yaris WRC from the start of 2020.

All parties have denied the deal is done, but Rovanpera's manager Timo Jouhki believes the current WRC 2 Pro leader was ready for the step up.

"Skoda has been very, very good with Kalle," Jouhki told Autosport.

"He has done a lot of testing and this has been an excellent place, but now the time has come.

"We wanted to see how he's progressing with the notes, working with the team, his physical fitness, working with the media and all of these things and he's progressed in every area. He's probably progressed more than we thought he would.

"The aim was for him to get experience for all of the rallies. By the end of this season he will have competed on every rally."

Toyota team boss Tommi Makinen said it was "a little too early" to start talking about drivers for next season, but added that he would be thinking about his 2020 line-up from now on.

Rovanpera has already tested the Yaris WRC, driving the car for the first time during an endurance session in 2017.

Speculation about the teenager joining Toyota has been rife ever since.

Rovanpera said he was ready to move up to the World Rally Car class.

"If the season continues to go like this, then I think we can go to the big cars," he told Autosport.

"We can go there and learn or we can use the option with Skoda and stay for another year, because there is still a lot to learn from the conditions of rallies.

"I saw in Portugal and Sardinia, the first time going to a new event is always difficult. So I will learn with Skoda or go with the big car."

Rovanpera was careful not to specify the "big car" he was talking about.

Autosport understands there was interest in Rovanpera from M-Sport and Hyundai, but Citroen remains fixed for next season with Sebastien Ogier and Esapekka Lappi.

The news that Rovanpera will take one of three Yaris WRCs next season will have ramifications for the driver market, but this season much of the movement will depend on whether WRC leader Ott Tanak remains at Toyota.

The team currently fields Tanak, Kris Meeke and Jari-Matti Latvala.

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