Tuesday | 23 Feb 2021

Latvala ready for Kalle to grab record

Jari-Matti Latvala is prepared for his record as the youngest driver to win an FIA World Rally Championship round to be broken this week by Toyota Gazoo Racing protégé Kalle Rovanperä.

Team principal Latvala will keep a closer eye than usual on Rovanperä’s pace at Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox (26 - 28 February), knowing the 20-year-old could rewrite the page of history Latvala inked at the 2008 Rally Sweden.

The rally will only be Rovanperä’s ninth top-level start, but he is tipped to score his first win in the frozen forests following victory at the non-championship Arctic Rally Lapland, a sister event to the WRC fixture, in January 2020.

Should Rovanperä win this week’s Rovaniemi-based event in his Yaris World Rally Car, he would eclipse Latvala’s previous best by two years and 162 days. Latvala was aged 22 years and 313 days when he took the record.

“I know Kalle is very strong,” said Latvala. “If it doesn’t come this week then I’ve got a strong feeling it will be this season, so I am prepared for the record to change. I guess I am waiting a little bit for this.

Video: Arctic Rally Finland - top 5 reasons to watch

“I don’t want Kalle to take pressure this week, he needs to enjoy the driving and that’s all. Like we know, there are a lot of things that need to come together to win a round of the WRC and, yes, it could be this week.

“We have seen Kalle has really good speed and he’s a Finn, so he likes the fast roads. The good thing is that Kalle is Finnish, so I know the record is staying in the country,” he added.

Rovanperä has already smashed one championship record on snow and ice. Twelve months ago in Sweden he became the WRC’s youngest podium finisher at 19 years and 139 days.

• Full coverage from Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.