FINNISH teenage star Kalle Rovanperä will drive a factory Toyota Yaris in next year’s FIA World Rally Championship, according to a British media report today.
PHOTO: Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool
The 18-year-old will become the youngest ever full-time factory driver in the WRC, journalist David Evans reports on Autosport.com.
With three round wins and two second places this season, Rovanperä is leading the WRC 2 Pro Championship for the factory Skoda team, but will invoke a clause in his contract to leave at the end of the year.
His last event for Skoda is expected to be Kennards Hire Rally Australia on the NSW Coffs Coast on 14-17 November.
Autosport says its sources have indicated Rovanperä will drive a third Yaris WRC from the start of 2020.
All parties have denied the deal is done, but Rovanperä’s manager Timo Jouhki believes the youngster is ready for the step up to WRC’s outright category.
“We wanted to see how he’s progressing with the notes, working with the team, his physical fitness, working with the media and all of these things and he’s progressed in every area. He’s probably progressed more than we thought he would,” Jouhki said.
“The aim was for him to get experience for all of the rallies. By the end of this season he will have competed on every rally.”
Toyota Gazoo Racing team boss Tommi Makinen said it was “a little too early” to start talking about drivers for next season, but added he would be thinking about his 2020 line-up from now on.
News that Rovanperä will take one of three Yaris WRCs next season will have ramifications for the driver market, Autosport says.
Much will depend on whether current WRC leader Ott Tänak remains at Toyota, where his current teammates are Kris Meeke and Jari-Matti Latvala.