Rovanperä title ‘bigger thing for Harri than for me’

Kalle Rovanperä wasn't the only person who'd invested 22 years into becoming world champion


Sunday, October 2 2022 delivered what the entire Rovanperä household had spent two decades building towards – Kalle becoming World Rally champion.

After crossing the finish line at Jack’s Ridge in New Zealand, Kalle’s first congratulatory hug was with his co-driver Jonne Halttunen atop the roof of his Toyota GR Yaris Rally1.

But, of course, his father Harri – himself a WRC event winner – was next to embrace the 22-year-old.

Since putting eight-year-old Kalle behind the wheel of a Toyota Starlet, both their lives had been dedicated to reaching this moment.

Almost 15 years later, they’d achieved the ultimate goal – yet it’s probably not the newly crowned champion himself that’s happiest to have won the title.

“I think this was honestly a bigger thing for him than for me,” the younger Rovanperä told DirtFish. “For sure he’s really relieved and proud, I think.”

Proud is certainly right. Look at DirtFish’s recently released retrospective on a very young Kalle and slightly younger Harri and you can see that he’s been there every step of the way.

But what about the winner himself? It’s been nearly a week now since that moment of crowning glory. Has it sunk in yet?

“Not too much,” said the new world champion.

Pre-event testing for Rally Spain, followed by yet another post-NZ press junket – Toyota had kindly shoe-horned DirtFish in between the BBC, CNN and Al-Jazeera – hasn’t offered much downtime to reflect on all that hard work father and son put in coming to fruition.

“I was quite busy traveling here [home] straight away, then to Spain and now back. So during the weekend I can relax a bit and try to enjoy what we have done.”

It’s a well-deserved week of rest coming up for Kalle before recce begins in Spain. As for Harri, he can put his feet up knowing the quest he set off on all those years ago is finally complete.

Words:Alasdair Lindsay