How much trust does Jari-Matti Latvala have in the youngest member of Toyota’s World Rally Championship lineup?
He’s lending him something quite precious. Something that’s awfully hard to replace.
The GR Yaris Rally1 isn’t the only rally car that Kalle Rovanperä will be driving this year, it turns out. That belongs to Toyota – if he writes it off, Jyväskylä can simply build another.
Not this car. This one belongs to Latvala himself. And he’s giving Rovanperä the keys to go for a joyride around San Marino next month.
In amongst the fleet of classic Toyotas that live at Latvala Motorsport in Tuuri is a yellow and black Toyota Celica ST185. It started life as a Group N-spec test car for Hannu Mikkola, as he acclimatized himself for one last stab at Rally Finland in 1993.
Now it’s in Group A spec, ready for Rovanperä to hoon around the asphalt roads of Rallylegend, an annual pilgrimage for fans of classic rally machines, on October 13-16.
Don’t be mistaken, though. Old does not mean slow. Rovanperä’s regular ride might be quicker in the corners but the ST185 packs a punch – Latvala himself reckons it can hit 120mph at top speed. Not even the GR Yaris Rally1 cracked that magic number in Finland this year.
Latvala wasn’t going to let himself be left out of the fun, though. He’s bringing another classic Toyota from the family collection; his trusty Celica ST165, the same one he’s been campaigning regularly for three years now and won the Lahti Historic Rally in last month.
Is yet another victory on the cards for Rovanperä in the faster, more powerful Celica? Possibly not. Rallylegend usually brings out modern WRC machinery alongside its older brethren – last year’s winner was Kristian Poulsen in his privately-owned Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC.
But winning isn’t what Rallylegend is really going to be about for Rovanperä or Latvala.
Given its place on the calendar between WRC rounds in New Zealand and Spain, it’s quite likely to be the world’s best bonus prize for wrapping up a maiden WRC drivers’ title a few weeks earlier.