Finnish Toyota driver, Kalle Rovanpera dominated the field in New Zealand on Sunday to launch himself into the history books as the youngest FIA World Rally Champion. At the age of 22, Rovanpera easily beat the record that was previously held by Colin McRae who won the 1995 title at the age of 27.
Going into Sunday’s final four stages, Rovanpera and co-driver Jonne Halttunen already had a substantial lead over the rest of the field. With the pair needing to outscore Ott Tanak by 7pts, they remained unchallenged all day and took maximum points on the Wolf Power Stage to secure the title with more than enough points in hand.
“It’s quite a big relief after such a good season and finally we are here.” Exclaimed the new World Champion. “It was a small wait after a few difficult rallies, but the biggest thanks goes to the team – they made this rocket this year. Even after all the difficult rallies they were believing in us and giving us all the support.”.
Rovanpera’s team principal, Jari-Matti Latvala, was equally elated by his driver’s achievement: “In a way I would like to cry, but I can’t cry here…it’s so important for Finland because it has been 20 years and that’s a very long time. I am grateful that Kalle did it – he is a superhero.”.
Sebastien Ogier secured second place making sure it was a Toyota 1-2 with a gap of 34.6s to the leader. Ott Tanak finished the rally in third with his teammate Thierry Neuville bringing the car home in fourth. Despite the 1min gap to Tanak, Neuville led home Oliver Solberg who managed to bring the car home after suffering from a misfire on Saturday.
With several drivers hitting trouble on Saturday, sixth place overall went to WRC2 driver, Hayden Paddon.
Despite the Drivers’ title already being decided, there are two rounds still to go. Next up is the RallyRACC – Rally de Espana on 20-23 October where attention will turn to the Manufacturers’ Championship.
- Rovanpera 2hr 48min 1.4s
- Ogier +34.6s
- Tanak +48.5s
- Neuville +1min 58.8s
- Solberg +3min 55.3s
- Paddon (WRC2) 10min 3.7s