Mon 30 Oct 2023

“We had to work harder for this one,” admits two-time WRC champion Rovanperä

Kalle Rovanperä says his second FIA World Rally Championship title challenged him more than the first after wrapping up the 2023 crown at Central European Rally on Sunday.

The Finn’s result of second overall at the tri-country fixture, coupled with Elfyn Evans’ crash on day three, means he can no longer be caught with one round remaining of the 2023 season.

Rovanperä, who made history last year by becoming the youngest WRC champion ever, joins an exclusive list of legends including Carlos Sainz, Walter Röhrl and Miki Biasion as a double winner. But the 23-year-old’s road to glory this time around was not as clear-cut as it was 12 months prior.

While Rovanperä netted six victories during his 2022 campaign, he has stood atop the podium just three times so far in 2023. His first triumph of this season did not arrive until Vodafone Rally de Portugal – round five – in May.

“I think I will appreciate this one more,” admitted the youngster, “because of, let’s say, how difficult it was and how much we needed to work for it.

“Last year, when we got the first title, I think the feeling and emotion was bigger, but I think this one was done in a more clever way with a plan for the whole season where we were quite clever and also quite fast.

“We still have a lot of stage wins and we are quite fast in all the conditions, so I think we can be really proud of what we have done.”

Co-driver Jonne Halttunen has been Rovanperä’s right-hand man since 2017. He echoed those sentiments, saying: “You can see from the results that the competition was a lot tougher this year compared to last year.

“Last year we tried to win, not all the events, but basically we were brutal,” Halttunen continued. “We were pushing a lot and maybe taking bigger risks. It gave us a good reward, but this year was a different approach in a way that, if there was some rally that we couldn’t win, we just took what we could. And when we could win, we push and try to take it.

“The only mistake came in Finland, and that was not even like a big mistake – it was just a bit unfortunate. It was a different year, but a nice year."

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 5, 2024 at 9:01:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM