WRC Champion Rovanperä Enjoys Circuit Debut at Zandvoort

On Circuit Zandvoort this weekend, the DTM is the main event with many big names from GT3 racing, but in the support program, another name stands out: Kalle Rovanperä. The 23-year-old Finn is making his circuit debut this weekend in the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux, transitioning from rally racing. Rovanperä has already proven himself in rally racing by winning the World Rally Championship two years in a row. Now, he is leaving the dirt roads behind to try his hand at asphalt racing.

“It’s the first circuit race I’m doing, and it’s been a very interesting week so far,” Rovanperä said at a press conference in Zandvoort. “It was the plan to do some circuit races this year and do a bit of WRC events for about half a year. I’m not doing the full championship. I have had a long interest in circuit races. This was the perfect year to do that,” said the 2022 and 2023 WRC champion. According to the young talent, the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux was the perfect championship due to the calendar. “I’m still quite busy with many things, so I have to keep an eye on the calendar. There are quite a few good drivers at the top here. It’s a good reference point to try circuit races, and then we’ll see how it goes.”

Making his circuit debut at Zandvoort presents its challenges for Rovanperä. “I drove on this circuit for the first time this week. It’s definitely not an easy track,” said the twelve-time rally winner. “There are many things to learn here, in terms of the circuit. But I would say it’s been going pretty well so far. I really enjoyed this circuit, it’s a big challenge.”

At the time of the press conference, Rovanperä had completed the first three free practices and the qualifying session. He performed well and secured the fourth position on the grid. “I was about one and a half tenths off the pole, so I can be very happy with that,” said the winner of 169 rally stages. “The end of the qualifying session went quite well. It’s not easy to put together a flawless lap. I didn’t have a flawless lap, yet we were able to set a fast lap time.”

This weekend, the PCCB will have two races at Zandvoort. This means Rovanperä will experience something unfamiliar from the WRC: overtaking and defending positions. “That will definitely be the biggest challenge,” he acknowledged. “Even in practice, I didn’t really overtake. So that will be new. I hope the pace in the race will be good. I don’t want to block everyone all the time. But it will be a new challenge to look in the mirrors and try to overtake. That’s even more interesting to me than the qualifying session because it’s completely new. I’m really looking forward to it.”

With the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, Rovanperä has already faced some challenges, as this car does not have ABS, making locking up a constant risk. “It’s definitely a quite tricky car to drive,” admitted the son of former WRC driver Harri Rovanperä. “It’s not easy to find that last tenth of a second. But the car is very enjoyable to drive.” It presents a different challenge from his Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 in the WRC, but he sees similarities. “You can do certain things in a similar way with this car,” he explained. “I quickly got to know the car, but fighting for that last tenth is not easy with this car.”

After his participation in the PCCB races at Zandvoort, Rovanperä confirmed he would also be present at the races in Imola, the Red Bull Ring, and the season finale in Zolder.