Arguably the fastest event on the 2021 World Rally Championship calendar, the Rally Estonia event this weekend saw the crowning of a new youngest-ever event winner. Simoultaneously, Toyota also took its sixth victory of the seven-event old 2021 championship.
Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota Gazoo Racing), at 20 years of age, not only became the youngest-ever WRC winner, but also took this record from his team manager, Jari-Matti Latvala. The latter took his first victory at the age of 22 at the 2008 Swedish Rally. At the same time, Rovanperä was already starting to ‘wow’ the world with his rally skills at the age of 6.
This might be largely thanks to the teaching by his father, Harri, who twice finished the Safari Rally in second and won the 2001 Swedish event. Rovanperä started racing for Toyota Gazoo Racing in 2020 and once again grabbed the attention of the rallying world, when he briefly took the 2021 Safari Rally lead, only to retire two stages later.
The young Finn claimed the rally lead early on as the event favourite, Ott Tänak (Hyundai) was forced to retire on Friday. Holding off the charging Craig Breen (Hyundai) and Thierry Neuville (Hyundai), Rovanperä slowly edged clear to win by just under a minute. It was also the first Finnish win since Latvala last won in Australia in 2018.
Meanwhile, Rovanperä’s teammate, Sebastien Ogier, kept safe in fourth to increase his already healthy championship lead to 37 points over Elfyn Evans (Toyota Gazoo Racing). Neuville and Rovanperä’s good form this weekend also meant that they passed Tänak for the third and fourth respective positions in the championship.
Next month, the WRC will again head back to asphalt when the championship takes on the Ypres Belgium Rally on 13-15 August.
Pictures: Red Bull Content Pool