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Kalle Rovanpera picks Skoda for 2018 WRC2 campaign

Kalle Rovanpera

Seventeen-year-old Kalle Rovanpera has been confirmed as the youngest factory driver in the World Rally Championship and will drive for Skoda in WRC2 in 2018.

Skoda's squad will be one of the youngest teams around next season with Ole Christian Veiby and Juuso Nordgren, both 21, also signed up with the Czech manufacturer.

This year's WRC2 winner Pontus Tidemand remains with Skoda, but he is likely to be included in Volkswagen's development of its Polo GTI R5 later in the year, and long-time Skoda driver Jan Kopecky will also remain in a factory Fabia in 2018.

Skoda celebrated its 2017 success at a press conference in the Czech Republic on Tuesday, where motorsport director Michal Hrabanek said: "We are happy to keep Pontus Tidemand and Jan Kopecky in the team.

Pontus Tidemand Skoda WRC Rally GB 2017

"Our youngsters Ole Christian Veiby and Juuso Nordgren already proved their talent. A new and equally talented addition to our team is 17-year-old Kalle Rovanpera."

Rovanpera had been choosing between Skoda and M-Sport for his 2018 R5 programme.

He signed off on his time in the Ford with victory at the Memorial Bettega event in Italy last weekend.

During Tuesday's press conference, Skoda Auto CEO Bernhard Maier also underlined that Skoda's rallying future was secure.

"2017 will go down in Skoda's history as the most successful year in motorsport and business ever," he said.

"This is a huge achievement for our team, which the whole company can be proud of.

"Motorsport has been part of Skoda Auto's DNA for 116 years. We are going to continue this tradition in the future."

On top of Tidemand's WRC2 title, Skoda driver Gaurav Gill won the Asia Pacific Rally Championship and Kopecky took another Czech crown, one of 14 national titles won with Skoda machinery around the world.

Next year Skoda is expected to run a similarly mixed programme led by WRC2 and the APRC.

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