Kalle Rovanperä's third place finish and special win was one of the hottest topics on the Swedish rally on Sunday. The 19-year-old became the youngest driver in the World Series to be the lucky winner and the youngest winner of the special stage.
Woodpecker has been known for years as a super talent in the sport, but even the driver's own father Harr was surprised by the rapid rise to the top of the WRC.
Read more: Harri's father moved to tears when Kalle Rovanperä made rally history - "Not much boy worshiping pictures"
Rovanperä's manager Timo Jouhki was delighted with his performance.
- A very unique performance in a mindset. Work has been going on for a long time and trained for this. This has been a certain expectation. The fact that this came so fast is a staggering performance, and I especially consider the power stage gain to be an incredible thing, Jouhki, who reached out by phone, told Ilta-Sanomat.
Jouhki recalls that Rovanperä was close to even beating world champion Ott Today. The Estonian ranked second ahead of Rovanperä. Two engine shutdowns early in the race significantly weakened the Finns' final time.
According to Jouhk, the result of the Swedish rally shows a long, systematic work ahead of the young driver. Whenever a new challenge has come, Rovanperä has quickly taken it. So now.
- Talents have been known for some time. The question has been by what date does he have enough experience and mileage. Kalle is a unique talent and a good adjuster of hell.
- Hit him with any kind of tool, but the result will come.
A sign of good adaptability was also seen in the season opener in Monte Carlo, where Rovanperä was fifth. Martha's rally is known to be one of the most challenging of the season because the conditions are so varied. The manager didn't expect much from there, but the end result was great.
From Sweden, Jouhki dared to wait for the prize-ball performance in 'normal' conditions, ie in the middle of the snow, but the race almost turned into a gravel rally when the roads were partly mild after the mild winter.
- I didn't really set any time limits or long-term expectations for this season, but a lot depends on the conditions in which the competition is run. The next race in Mexico should suit Kale well. I believe it is the same type as this race in Sweden. Kalle has driven there once before with an R5.
With the menopause, success does not seem to be at stake. Toyota riders Rovanperä, Elfyn Evans and Sebastien Ogier ranked among the top five in two opening races. In Sweden Evans won, Rovanperä third and Ogier fourth.
Only Hyundai rider Tänak struck a wedge on Toyota in Sweden. He and teammate Thierry Neuville are the toughest challengers in Tommi Mäkinen's stable since the start of the season.
- It seems that the tip is narrowing slightly in that sense. Kale's success does not get caught up in the menopause. The car is definitely top of the line. Ogier has driven as expected, other drivers in the stable have outdone themselves.