Pirelli backs youngest-ever factory driver in rallying
Kalle Rovanpera, the teenage rally sensation from Finland who has already won a national championship aged just 16, will drive for Peugeot Italia as team mate to Paolo Andreucci on the Italian Rally Championship, with backing from Pirelli. Rovanpera’s first confirmed outings are Rally Il Ciocco from March 17-19 and Rallye Sanremo from March 30-April 2. “I’m very grateful to Pirelli for helping to make this amazing opportunity possible,” said Rovanpera. “I really want to build up my experience on asphalt because most of my rallies so far have been held on gravel. With Paolo as my team mate and support from Pirelli, I also have the best possible teachers when it comes to driving on sealed surfaces. For me, this programme is all about learning: I’m not looking at the results.” Peugeot Italia communications director Carlo Leoni added: “We’re delighted that Kalle has chosen the 208 T16 and Pirelli: the most competitive car and tyres on the Italian Rally Championship. Working alongside Paolo and taking part in the championship will mark an important chapter in Kalle’s professional growth.” Rovanpera has starred on Italian asphalt twice before with Pirelli. Last year he took part in the Monza Rally Show and also in the Bettega Memorial at the Bologna Motor Show, where he nearly won on his World Rally Car debut. Pirelli’s rally activity manager Terenzio Testoni commented: “At Pirelli we firmly believe in supporting champions of the future, so we are delighted to offer Kalle this unprecedented opportunity. The combination of our knowledge, alongside that of Paolo and Peugeot Italia, should help Kalle take big steps towards realising his phenomenal potential.” Rovanpera has already tested the Peugeot 208 T16 R5 on asphalt, running on Pirelli’s RK dry tyres and RW Cinturato rain tyres. He will have one further test on similar Tuscan hill roads to those used for the Rally Il Ciocco: round one of the Italian championship. On account of his age, co-driver Risto Pietilainen will drive the road sections, with Rovanpera taking over for the stages.
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