Rovanpera makes WRC Monte visit to launch special Toyota

Rovanpera is unusually absent from this weekend’s entry list event after electing to contest a partial WRC campaign with Toyota as he plans to “recharge his batteries” ahead of a full-time return to the championship in 2025.

However, the Finn was present at the ceremonial start at Casino Square in Monaco to take part in the reveal of two special edition Toyota GR Yaris that will go on general sale. The Japanese brand has evolved its popular sports hatchback by launching the Kalle Rovanpera and Sebastien Ogier edition GR Yaris RZ.

Rovanpera and eight-time world champion Ogier have overseen and provided input in the development of the cars of which only 100 units of each edition will be made. The cars feature bespoke liveries and a raft of changes, including a new four-wheel drive system, modified rear wings and specific “Kalle” and “Seb” driving modes developed by the drivers.

Rovnapera says he has been heavily involved in the development of the car and is honoured to have a road car made in his honour.

“There are a few people that can have a special model [of a car] with their name so for sure I’m excited and of course a big thanks goes to Akio [Toyoda, Toyota chairman] who has made this project possible. He is a big car guy like our drivers and he loves to have all of these things,” Rovanpera told Autosport.

Kalle Rovanpera

Kalle Rovanpera

“I think it is much more exciting drive than the old model. We have made quite a lot of tweaks to the four-wheel drive system and differentials and for me the biggest thing is you can drive it a bit harder especially on the high grip conditions like tarmac. You can push the car and really throw it around. The GR Yaris is a car is made to have fun and this one works really well.

“The differentials and some technical sides on the engine mapping and all the things we could have changed, we were quite highly involved in.

“Obviously one of the biggest things was the livery and it is fully deigned by one of my good friends in Finland, who has done the liveries on all of my drift cars. He made the design together with Japanese people and actually the car is painted like this, it is not a wrap. I think it is one of the first cars in the world with paint this complicated.”

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After witnessing the ceremonial start from the other side of the fence, Rovanpera admitted he might feel a bit strange watching the rally from the sidelines.

“It is not too strange at the moment but of course maybe when the rally starts it could be a bit of a different feeling,” he added.

“When you see cars going over the ramp and into the mountains, and normally I would be there it can be a strange feeling. At least so far, I’m still happy and relaxed.”

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