Recently-crowned WRC 2 Pro champion Kalle Rovanperä has admitted his season of success aboard Skoda’s Fabia R5 has prepared him for the step up to a World Rally Car.
The 19-year-old has driven for the Czech Republic team at the highest level of R5 rallying for the last two seasons and feels he’s now ready to take his place at the WRC’s top table.
“I think I can be ready after this season,” said the Finn. “You can never be fully ready, we will have to learn again, the World Rally Car is a different car.”
But not a car completely new to Rovanperä, who drove Toyota’s Yaris WRC as a 16-year-old. Toyota Gazoo Racing team principal Tommi Mäkinen remembers that test well.
“He drove the car in 2016,” said Mäkinen. “We made a small stage, he went and made some notes and then did a couple of runs. It was just in some testing, some small driving, nothing big – but he was straight away fastest.
“Even with no experience of the car, he got in it and went faster than Teemu (Suninen) and Esapekka (Lappi). And that was three years ago.”
Rovanperä remained tight-lipped on where his future might lie, but he is widely expected to be announced in Mäkinen’s squad in the coming weeks.
Similarly, Mäkinen declined the opportunity to offer insight into his 2020 driver line-up, but the four-time world champion was full of praise for Rovanperä.
He said: “Kalle has been driving and keeping everything cool, driving and pushing without the risks. He is very fast, but I’m not sure if the current place R5 is enough anymore to keep him improving and learning. Maybe it could be, for him, enough to make that jump.”