Rovanperä: I haven’t done a good job this year

After crashing twice in three starts, the double world champion admits he should be doing better


Two-time World Rally Champion Kalle Rovanperä admits his performances during his part-time WRC schedule this year haven’t matched up to his own high standards.

After winning his second world crown, the 23-year-old elected to follow his illustrious Toyota team-mate Sébastien Ogier into a reduced schedule for 2024, offering more time to relax and pursue other interests.

Rovanperä has contested three WRC rounds so far this year, winning Safari Rally Kenya but crashing out from the lead of both Sweden and Portugal despite favorable road conditions.

Those showings prompted some questions over the Finn’s level of preparation and whether he had adopted too much of a win-or-bust attitude. His Toyota team principal, Jari-Matti Latvala admitted to some concerns but stopped short of criticizing the precocious talent.

It’s clear that Rovanperä has enjoyed having less pressure on his shoulders and a more relaxed schedule. But last weekend, on his circuit racing debut, he did not shy away from his own disappointment at his 2024 WRC results when reflecting on the impact of his part-time role.

“It’s different, having always the only target and the only pressure [to win the title],” he said. “And really quickly, when you drive for the championship like that, everything around your life goes… a lot of effort goes into it, even when you’re at home, or what you do before a rally, after a rally. All the things are affected.

“And now I can just go do a rally. Of course I haven’t done a good job this year – only one win. Should’ve been better with the starting places, so definitely I don’t feel I’ve done well.

“But still, every time I go to a rally, I can just focus on one rally. I try to win that one event, and then when I’m off that I’m again in ‘free mode’. I don’t need to be thinking ‘one week after I have another race’ – it can be three weeks or one month like that.”

Rovanperä’s remaining 2024 WRC schedule has not yet been confirmed. He will skip the next round in Poland, but an outing in Latvia – where he competed extensively in his formative years – for the country’s first WRC round appears likely.

His Toyota team is currently facing the biggest threat to its supremacy since Hyundai’s last manufacturers’ title win in 2020. If it is to win this year’s title, Toyota needs Rovanperä more than ever to emulate Ogier’s big-scoring form on the events he contests.

The benefit – or otherwise – of Rovanperä’s partial sabbatical this year will only really become clear once he returns to full-time competition in 2025. But his team still needs him on the top of his game this year. Rovanperä knows he can do better.