Kalle Rovanperä has become a two-time WRC champion, clinching the title on Sunday after finishing second overall at Central European Rally with Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team.
By finishing runner-up to Thierry Neuville at this penultimate round, the 23-year-old ensured he can no longer be caught in the 2023 season.
Just one year ago, Rovanperä made history when he became the youngest ever WRC champion.
Now, he stands alongside legendary names like Carlos Sainz, Walter Röhrl and Miki Biasion as a double winner.
Entering Central European Rally with a 31-point lead over Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mate Elfyn Evans, Rovanperä simply needed to maintain his advantage to claim the crown. When Evans suffered a dramatic crash on Saturday morning, the path to victory was all but assured.
Following a steady start to the season, Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen hit their straps in May by winning Vodafone Rally de Portugal. Since that moment, the pair have only been off the podium twice.
“I am feeling really good,” Rovanperä beamed. “I think this year was, for me personally, more important than last year. The competition was tighter, and we did a really good job. The biggest thank you of course goes to Jonne – he is also the world’s best co-driver. I am going to enjoy this one more than the first one.”
Elfyn Evans (above) has 191pts and is lying in second place in WRC just 7pts ahead of Neuville.
Elfyn Evans said, “I want to say a huge congratulations to Kalle and Jonne – as well as the whole team – for winning these titles.
“They’ve worked hard and done an incredible job and they deserve the title. From our side, there’s disappointment of course but we knew it was a long shot coming into the weekend and we had to give it a go.
“In fairness to Kalle, he was very strong on Friday and we didn’t have the pace to follow him. After that we continued to try, it didn’t work out this time, but sometimes that’s the way it goes and we’ll try again next year. We managed to get a few points from the Power Stage and now we can look forward to Rally Japan.”
The championship comes to a close in Asia next month at FORUM8 Rally Japan, based in Aichi from 16 – 19 November.