Tue 03 May 2022

Rovanperä opens up on Toyota move

Kalle Rovanperä has revealed the series of events which led to him joining Toyota Gazoo Racing’s WRC line-up.

Speaking to WRC+ All Live’s Becs Williams in a recent WRC Backstories podcast, Rovanperä opened up on how he became the youngest ever full-time factory driver with Toyota in the WRC. 

According to the Finn, he knew where his future lay by the end of the 2018 season. 

At that time, he was only halfway through a two-year WRC2 drive with Škoda, manager Timo Jouhki - the man behind the careers of Tommi Mäkinen, Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala to name a few - had been working hard behind the scenes. 

“We were quite sure already by the end of the year in 2018,” explained Rovanperä. “At that time we were already speaking with [Toyota]  and we knew what was going to happen.

“Basically, I think Timo started to do the work quite early. He was of course speaking with me about what I wanted to do and asking for my opinion, but I just trusted that he knew the best. 

“I just left it to him to do the other work behind the scenes and of course I went to speak with the [Toyota] management with him at some rallies to say ‘hi’ to them. 

“At some point, [Timo] was just like, ‘Yeah, I think we have a few options,’ and then together we decided to go to Toyota. So I knew it already quite early,” he added.

Now in his third season in the sport’s top-flight and with four victories already under his belt, it’s hard to imagine Rovanperä driving any other car. 

Apparently, though, it was a possibility. With interested from other corners of the service park, the 21-year-old’s career could have taken a different path. 

“I think there were discussions with every team,” admitted Rovanperä. “But, at that time, I think not all of them were so sure. I can say that at least few of them had the option. 

“Of course, it sounded good that they were interested and they wanted me to drive. I was not sure what was waiting for me in the WRC car, but I was quite sure that if I go there I can start to drive the car well.”

During the interview, Rovanperä delves deeper into his short - but extraordinary - career and shares some interesting tales, from driving on ice lakes at the age of eight to joining forces with co-driver Jonne Halttunen. 

He also reveals plans to rebuild his beloved Toyota Starlet and addresses his future hopes for success in the WRC. 

You can listen to all of this plus much more here on WRC.com, iTunes or Spotify. 

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