Kalle Rovanperä and Skoda Motorsport were deserving winners in the inaugural WRC 2 Pro season.
Rovanperä’s year didn’t get off to the best of starts. The then 18-year-old quite literally bumped into countryman Teemu Suninen on the opening stage of Rallye Monte-Carlo. The meeting of Fabia R5 front end and rear of a factory Ford Fiesta WRC, which was already filling the ditch Kalle was heading for, cost both Finns any hope of a result.
A snowbank did the same next time out in Sweden, with Corsica also offering no respite as Rovanperä went off the road again.
But from then on, he was on superb form. Driving for the Toksport team for the first time, Kalle dominated in Chile and then took three straight wins aboard the Fabia R5 evo in Portugal, Italy and Finland.
That Jyväskylä victory was particularly sweet, coming at home and after suspension failure robbed him of a win 12 months earlier. The title came in Britain, with his elevation to a full WRC programme with Toyota Gazoo Racing confirmed soon after.
Citroën and M-Sport also committed to WRC 2 Pro and enjoyed success. Gus Greensmith started in the best possible fashion with an excellent Monte-Carlo win and seventh overall aboard a Fiesta R5.
His eye was taken from the WRC 2 Pro ball in the middle of the year when he deputised for the injured Elfyn Evans in a World Rally Car. When he came back, he delivered a dramatic Turkish win, but missed out on second place to Mads Østberg by eight points. Østberg’s campaign was bookended by wins aboard a C3.
The WRC 2 season was fiercely fought with six different drivers leading the title race through the year.
In the end, there were more Škoda celebrations when Fabia driver Pierre-Louis Loubet secured the title by three points from triple European champion Kajto Kajetanowicz, who fluctuated between a Fabia and Volkswagen Polo.
Kajetanowicz’s only win came in Turkey but that maximum score was enough to move him to the top of the table.
Back-to-back wins in Portugal and Italy played Loubet into a strong position and he cemented the title with second in Britain and fifth in Spain.
Mexican Benito Guerra took a hugely popular win on his home round and remained in the fight for the rest of the season. He was third, with fellow Škoda driver Nikolay Gryazin, who took his maiden category success in Finland, one place behind.
Fabio Andolfi and Ole Christian Veiby also won a round apiece on their way to fifth and sixth.