Kalle Rovanperä’s versatile 2024: a year of diverse motorsport challenges

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In 2024, Rovanperä’s agenda includes rallying, circuit racing, drifting, and even starring in a music video for the song “Rallikansa” by Finnish artists JVG. The track has garnered over four million streams on Spotify, and Rovanperä’s appearance underscores his multifaceted interests.

Kalle Rovanperä, the reigning two-time World Rally champion, is embracing a year filled with varied motorsport activities fueled by his deep-seated passion for all things automotive. This year, he is venturing into three different disciplines: rallying, circuit racing, and drifting. Additionally, he’s made a surprising cameo in a Finnish hip-hop video. It’s clear that Rovanperä’s love for cars knows no bounds.

In 2024, Rovanperä’s agenda includes rallying, circuit racing, drifting, and even starring in a music video for the song “Rallikansa” by Finnish artists JVG. The track has garnered over four million streams on Spotify, and Rovanperä’s appearance underscores his multifaceted interests. Despite his myriad pursuits, his core passion remains constant: cars. “I’m sure out of all the rally drivers, I am most into cars that are not rally cars, you know like road cars and racing cars,” he stated in an interview with Autosport.

Rovanperä’s enthusiasm for automobiles extends beyond his professional commitments. “I just enjoy cars a lot. My main hobby is to build cars, and although I don’t have the time and the skills to make the cars myself, I really enjoy thinking about the specs when I get a new car, like what kind of wheels I want and all the small details. When I see the car when it is ready, it is one of the biggest joys I can get. I love road cars so much. I love how they look, and I love the way you can express yourself with cars,” he shared.

This passion led him to feature as a welder-turned-driver in JVG’s “Rallikansa” music video. However, it’s his love for cars that explains why Rovanperä has curated a year that many petrolheads would envy. After deciding to scale back his WRC campaign to “recharge his batteries,” Rovanperä is combining rallying with circuit racing and drifting, a mix that appeals greatly to the 23-year-old champion.

kalle rovanpera
Kalle Rovanpera

Rovanperä’s journey in motorsport began early, influenced by his father, WRC rally winner Harri Rovanperä. He began driving at the age of seven, which helped him break multiple WRC records. In 2022, he became the youngest ever world champion, surpassing Colin McRae’s record by over five years. Last year, he joined the ranks of WRC legends like Juha Kankkunen, Miki Biasion, Tommi Mäkinen, Sébastien Loeb, and Sébastien Ogier by defending his title.

Rovanperä’s first rally memory is a testament to his deep-rooted passion. “I think my first rally memory has to be from a Rally Finland test where my dad was driving a Peugeot 307 in maybe 2003 or 2004,” he recalled. “I remember it really well because I was actually driving with him on the stage. My cousin was co-driving with him, but I was so small I was sitting on my dad’s lap. We went on the stage, and of course, he was not driving full speed. I was there holding the steering wheel. I remember some small things from it and have seen some photos.”

Drifting has become a significant part of Rovanperä’s automotive pursuits. His relationship with Toyota and its car-enthusiast chairman Akio Toyoda has facilitated his involvement in drifting. He has driven Toyota Corolla and Supra drift cars in competitions across Europe and Japan. “When I was younger, I mentioned that I wanted to have a go at drifting. I knew I would like it and I was excited to try some cars. I bought an S13 Nissan, and with small modifications, you can drift these cars a bit. After trying a pro drift car, I was hooked,” he said.

Drifting is an acquired taste in motorsport, but for Rovanperä, it’s a thrilling challenge. “Drifting has evolved a lot. The competition is fierce, and the cars are proper race cars, really fast. Many people think you don’t have grip because you want to slide, but the cars are as gripped up as possible. We have so much grip that it is not easy to drive. It’s cool when you make it work,” he explained.

This year, Toyota has created limited edition ‘Kalle Rovanperä’ and ‘Sébastien Ogier’ editions of the GR Yaris, which the drivers helped design. One of these will likely join Rovanperä’s collection, which includes a prized 1987 BMW M3 E30 – Tour De Corse edition. “Akio Toyoda has a similar mindset and enjoys cars a lot. It’s amazing to be involved from the first steps and decide the settings and small details. I have to thank Toyota and Akio for this project,” he added.

Rovanperä is also venturing into circuit racing, competing in the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux at Zandvoort with Red Ant Racing. “I’m really excited for my first time on the circuit and have that new challenge, which will be really difficult – but that is the point of it. It is new and interesting, and that is why I have the motivation to do it and see how it goes,” he said. “The first test went well, and I think my lap times were on an OK level. Of course, it will be a long process to get to the level I want to be. It is like any motorsport – you need the kilometers.”

For Rovanperä, this diverse 2024 schedule is a way to relax and enjoy life. “I can feel it already that this year is doing a lot of good for me. I can relieve the stress that you normally have doing the full year when you are fighting for the championship,” he concluded.

As Rovanperä continues to explore his passion for cars through various motorsport disciplines, his journey remains an inspiration for petrolheads worldwide.