Kalle Rovanperä’s decision to take time for himself next season made waves in the World Rally Championship.
It didn’t take long for the world to make up its mind over the thinking behind the two-time world champion’s decision. He was going drifting. That was it. Such assumptions make the Finn smile. He’s happy to let people think what they want to think.
Waiting to collect his world championship trophy from the FIA in Baku on Friday, he took time to talk DirtFish through the decision that – momentarily – brought the WRC to a standstill.
“I want to make use of the time and do what I want to do,” he said. “It’s a little bit like catching up with your [youth], with what you were doing when you were younger. Of course, you cannot really catch up… when you are a teenager and you are a professional, you always have some place where you need to be and you miss out on many things that other people are doing.
“I want to use next year, it’s a lot of time for my personal things out of motorsport. There are trips to take. I want to visit places where I want to go.
“I think everybody is expecting I will do a full season of drifting – but that just doesn’t make sense. Why would I do that? Why would I take time off and then fill it up with something else? I’m not planning so much to drive drifting or rallying. There will be some nice events to enjoy and then I would like to use a little bit of time on the circuit too.”
It’s easy to forget Rovanperä used to compete in karting in his younger days. But when you talk about younger days for him…
Why would I take time off and then fill it up with something else?Kalle Rovanperä
“It’s really young,” he laughs. “A long time ago.
“Circuit racing is interesting for me, I’ve been looking at GT racing for a couple of years. I want to give it a try and see how it goes. As well as the karting, I did some training with Porsche on a track, but nothing recently.
“I don’t have a complete plan yet, but in GT4, Toyota has a Supra. And then there’s the [GR010 Hybrid].”
That is Toyota’s World Endurance Championship-winning hypercar.
“I’d definitely like to test that,” he said. “You can see how well they’re doing in WEC. We have to try a simulator test first and it depends from that – you need to be fast enough to go in the real car. Nothing is planned with this, [but] this is what I am thinking.”
Rovanperä’s 2024 WRC program is far from decided presently, but Jyväskylä’s big weekend, it’s fair to assume, is well and truly in the diary. But again, not for the reasons, you might be thinking. He wants a home win, but it’s not something that’s bugging him.
“I think everybody else thinks winning Finland is more important for me than I think it is for me!” he explains.
“For sure, this year could have been a nice one, but it didn’t come and I’m not super disappointed. I would have wanted to do it in my hometown and my home country, but it’s not like it’s the biggest thing in the world.
“Hopefully next year when we go there we can take a good starting place – hopefully we can start with a better chance; the last two years cleaning the road hasn’t been the easiest.”
One of the more outlandish suggestions for next year was of a Dakar Rally outing next month in Toyota’s GR DKR Hilux T1+
“Jonne [Halttunen] is interested to do that,” he said. “So maybe when we have time… I would like to test the Dakar car. I would like to do some off-road.”
There’s a pause and a grin.
“It could be interesting to come to America… I would like to try something like the Baja trucks, these things are proper cars!”
It’s clear, Kalle hasn’t made many decisions about next year yet. He looked more relaxed than he’s looked for a while in Azerbaijan. He’s had a haircut, the mullet’s gone and the perm’s back. He’s a man ready for a vacation.
Talk 2025 and the steel’s there.
“We’ll be back for that,” he said. “We’ll be fighting for the title again.”
But for now, he’s ready for a rest. A Kalle kind of rest.