how Kalle Rovanperä is changing the sport

The rally has long been dominated by riders whose strength is their experience.
Mäkinen, Kankkunen and the French superheroes Ogier and Loeb who have mastered the discipline for a very long time thanks to their unique knowledge of all the details of the races. Each rally, in fact, is only once a year. The crew is allowed to cover stages at a speed limit of 80 km/h twice as a reconnaissance. Then they have a very small chance of going all out in the corners. One mistake, one accident and you won’t be back for 12 months.

To negotiate such corners, experience is essential in the WRC

© Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool

This seniority bonus has become difficult for many talented pilots. When the champion of Formula 1, Robert Kubica, switched to full-time rallying in 2013, for example, he suffered from this lack of experience. “It’s too hard, he used to say. In circuit racing, when you make a mistake, you can go back and drive the same route. In rallying, if you go off the road, you don’t see the place for a year. . And when you come back, configurations can change completely.So your performance in rallying is mainly linked to the experience you have accumulated during your career.
The Rallye Monte-Carlo, which opened the season, is a classic example. The French Alps in January have many faces. They can be hot and sunny, which is synonymous with tarmac grip and fast roads. But the Alps can also be icy and have little visibility. The rider has to adapt and understand how the tires will work in all situations.
It is for these reasons that Colin McRae is hated the Monte Carlo.

“Here, it’s never the same, he complained after a big slide in 1995. You don’t know if you’re going to fall on a patch of ice or on clean asphalt. And the spectators put snow on the road. You don’t know if where they’re going. Really, it takes a lot of experience.”

In theory, of course, you can drive most roads on WRC Anytime. The famous Col de Turini is, for example, a public road that can be traveled by anyone, at any time. But it’s obviously out of the question to take a rally car and launch it at full speed on a track one fine morning when the road is open to traffic…

Experience then is why world rally champions always tend to be crowned late in their careers. For nearly three decades, 27-year-old Colin McRae has been the sport’s youngest world champion.

Until this 2022 season…

The WRC All Live service has changed the way drivers learn the lines.

The All Live service has changed the way pilots learn on the lines

© Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool

How did he achieve such success?

First of all, you should know that Rovanperä has exceptional pilot experience for his age. The Finn has been driving rally cars since the age of eight on test roads and he even drove regular cars before that!

But what makes the biggest difference between him and the rest is the fact that he participated in R5 and Rallye 2 events from the age of 15.

At the same age, no one has accumulated as much driving time as Rovanperä.

Technology has helped the world champion adapt to changing rally conditions. At the start of the 2018 season, the WRC Promoter changed the sport for the fans, but also for the competitors. All Live is truly an amazing streaming service that brings live footage from all corners of all stages for all rallies around the world.

Fans will see and hear everything. And it changed everything because there were no more secrets.

In 2018, Sébastien Ogier has already pointed to the evolution of his sport. “All Live is good for the fans, said the eight-time champion. But for me, as a driver, I wonder… Now, with all the boards and all the cameras, it’s hard to keep things to yourself. Everyone can see where the drivers are braking, how they are using their notes and what they are doing on the stages, all the time. Newcomers to the sport can watch and analyze every stage.”

2 minutes

Kalle Rovanperä is the youngest WRC champion of all time

Find out how Kalle Rovanperä became the youngest WRC champion in history after Rally New Zealand.

Of course, even today, nothing beats driving on the roads. But the ability to observe the evolution of the route between a passage in the morning and in the afternoon is very important information for competitors. “For sure it helps,” said Rovanperä, leading on his WRC debut in the premier class at the start of the 2020 season. It’s interesting to see how the line changes and to see where the guys cut.

Access to this information redistributes the cards. “When I started in this sport, remembers Dani Sordo, I came to reconnaissance and that’s where I got my information. Today, the drivers are always on board, thanks to video. Rally has changed a lot.”

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