The dust has settled. Jari-Matti Latvala has come to terms with the fact his name has been erased in the World Rally Championship’s history books. The next question is when does Colin become Kalle?
Colin McRae remains the youngest ever world champion. His 1995 RAC Rally victory landed him his first and only title at the age of 27 years and 109 days. Until now, the closest anybody has come is the previous record holder, Juha Kankkunen, who was 140 days older than McRae when he first wore the crown.
Rovanperä, who turns 21 on October 1, is unlikely to win the championship this year. If he does it next year, he’d smash McRae’s record by five years and a whole load of days.
The Rally Estonia winner’s unwilling to offer a definitive word on when he’ll be champion, so what about those closest to him? What do fellow Finns, his father Harri and team principal Jari-Matti Latvala think?
“What did Jari-Matti say?” said Harri when the question was posed by DirtFish.
Latvala (after one of those very long pauses, the sort he deploys when he’s giving something genuine, serious thought) said: “Well, he still has to gain some more experience of the technical events and he has some difficulties still in some of the technical events.
“I would say 2023 or 2024, he could be champion. I think in 2022 it could be tricky for him, there are still some events to learn.
“But there is no doubt that he’s very fast and he’s capable of winning rallies all the time now.”
Rovanperä Sr agrees.
“I think 2023 as well,” he said. “He can still take some experience next year, and, of course, he still has some rallies to learn. But then he is ready [for the title] I think. But for winning more rallies, I think he can do anything everywhere now.”
Even if Kalle takes until 2027 to lift the title, he’d still beat McRae’s record. That is, however, if the likes of Oliver Solberg, Max McRae or Fabio Schwarz – or any of the other super-quick teenagers out there – don’t beat him to it.
For reference, current champion Sébastioen Ogier was 29 years and 294 days when he won. Ott Tänak was 12 days past his 32nd birthday when he lifted the 2019 title and Sébastien Loeb was 30 years and 220 days old when he celebrated title number one back in 2004.
Going in the opposite direction, Hannu Mikkola is the oldest world champion at 41 years and 183 days.