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The petrolhead obsession that drives WRC champion Rovanpera

Rovanpera's partial WRC campaign this year is allowing him to enjoy his wider passion for cars

Rallying, circuit racing, drifting and starring in a hip-hop video are all activities in Kalle Rovanpera’s 2024 ‘gap year’ calendar. It’s fair to say life is pretty good at the moment for the reigning two-time World Rally champion, who has rewritten the record books.

The common denominator that links all of these pursuits together, even his brief dalliance into the world of Finnish hip-hop, is an unbridled passion for cars. If a search was conducted to find the biggest petrolhead currently competing in global motorsport, then Rovanpera has to enter the conversation.

“I’m sure out all of the rally drivers, I am most into cars that are not rally cars, you know like road cars and racing cars,” the Toyota WRC driver says in a special edition of Autosport’s Gravel Notes podcast.

“I just enjoy cars a lot. I would say my main hobby is to build cars, and of course I don’t have the time and the skills to make the cars myself, but I really enjoy thinking about the spec when I get a new car myself, 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.”

Rovanpera has taken this freedom of expression to a new level this year by starring as a welder-turned-driver in a hip-hop video for the ‘Rallikansa’ track – which translates to ‘Rally Crowd’ – by award winning Finnish artists JVG. It’s a song that has been streamed more than four million times on Spotify.

Rovanpera’s partial WRC campaign this year is allowing him to enjoy his wider passion for cars

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

But it’s this passion for cars that goes some way to explain why Rovanpera has put together a petrolhead’s paradise of a year, after deciding to conduct a part campaign in the WRC “to recharge his batteries”. A spot of rallying combined with a venture into circuit racing while also indulging his love of drifting, is very appealing to the 23-year-old.

It’s perhaps not surprising that one the brightest talents to hit the WRC stages in recent years has a love affair with all things four wheels. Since he was aged seven, the son of WRC rally winner Harri Rovanpera has been driving a vehicle of some sort. And it’s this incredibly early start to driving that has helped him collect WRC records for fun.

After smashing the late…

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