How did Kalle Rovanperä celebrate his first World Rally Championship win in seven months? He got on a plane and flew to planet earth’s far side. For fun.
The 22-year-old lives to guide internal combustion through the side window and his decision to head east this week simply underlines that. Talking to the Toyota star moments after he’d secured his first WRC win in seven months, he went through the motions. He talked the talk.
It was only when brilliant Japanese rally writer Keiko Ito wished him all the best for his holiday in her homeland that his eyes truly lit up.
Could we talk about it? I sought permission from the corporate powers that be to change the subject from the reason we were in Portugal.
Kalle stepped in. Yes, it was more than fine to talk about drifting.
So we did.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” he smiled. “It’s been a long time since my last competition and, yeah, it’s a sport which I really like. I enjoy it much more because it’s more my hobby than a job.
“It’s gonna be cool to go to Japan.
“It helps to take away some of the pressure and I can do it with my own team and friends. That’s the best part, just having a blast with my good friends who are my mechanics and helping me there. We’re just having a good time and enjoying.
“We don’t have so much time [for drifting this year], but, of course, we are going to try some quite nice events this year, so it should be good.”
Following his Portugal win, Rovanperä talked about some personal issues which had darkened his start to the season, so to see him spending a week sideways, smokin’ some Yokos with his buddies was great.
And with that, a Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 and round five of the World Rally Championship became a Cusco Racing Toyota Corolla and round two of Formula Drift Japan.