Teenage rally star Kalle Rovanpera gets Red Bull backing
|By David Evans||Tuesday, May 16th 2017, 16:06 GMT|
Sixteen-year-old rally star Kalle Rovanpera has been signed by Red Bull and will benefit from personal backing from the Austrian energy drinks firm from now on.
Rovanpera, son of WRC event winner Harri, has taken the rally world by storm in the last 12 months, winning last year's Latvian title and remaining undefeated in that series so far this year.
He is tipped to make his WRC debut on Rally GB in October.
"This deal feels really nice," said Rovanpera of the Red Bull news.
"Red Bull is the coolest brand in the rally world.
"I am really happy to be part of them.
"It is a big step for me in my rally career.
"We were in talks with Red Bull for some time already.
"The sponsor deal means more possibilities for the future.
"That is how it is nowadays, you need to be seen in the media."
In addition to the Latvian Rally Championship - where drivers are allowed to compete from the age of 14 - Rovanpera has now started rallying in Italy and his native Finland with a waiver from both national governing bodies.
Rovanpera is competing in Italy to gain experience of asphalt events and driving alongside local hero Paolo Andreucci for the importer Peugeot team.
But Rovanpera has been frustrated by the Peugeot 208 T16 he is using in Italy, rolling in last weekend's Rally Adriatico and being forced out with radiator damage.
"The engine in Peugeot feels like the one in S2000 car," he said.
"There is no torque in the low revs at all.
"It suits badly to the stages like we had this weekend in Italy.
"That is also the feature that partly caused our roll."
Rovanpera will return to his Toni Gardemeister-run Skoda Fabia R5 for this weekend's Rally Talsi, the latest Latvian round.