The two-time WRC title winner had indicted a wish to broaden his motorsport horizons after announcing plans that he and co-driver Jonne Halttunen will contest a partial World Rally Championship campaign this year, which begins at Rally Sweden next week.
The 23-year-old admitted late last year that he wanted to try other motorsport disciplines, revealing that he had a target of testing and racing a GT car. In mid-January, the Finn was linked to an entry in this year’s Fuji 24 Hours that takes place on 25-26 May.
However, Rovanpera has now confirmed that he will complete a partial programme in the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux. The Finn will jump into a 911 GT3 Cup car for four of the six rounds and the car will be serviced by Red Ant Racing, managed by Marc Goosens, a former Formula Ford Festival winner, veteran Le Mans racer of 13 starts and race winner in Formula 3000.
“I have a really exciting season of rallying coming up and with a partial season I have a bit more time and it has been a long time in my mind to go and drive a bit of circuit racing,” said Rovanpera.
“I’m really excited to start this new challenge on the circuit. It will be I think a big challenge for me but I’m really excited and I think the Benelux series is also quite good. There are young drivers with a lot of experience and also those with a lot of experience, so it will be a big challenge for me against them. But it will be a good learning experience for me.”
“Of course it gives me an extra boost as it is something new, so it is always more interesting when you have new challenges and I’m really looking forward to what kind of feeling I will have there.
“It is going to be so different from rallying but I will take it quite easy and I don’t have big pressure on myself. I just want to go there and see how I do. We have a proper plan to do some good testing and get myself fast in the car. I’m still a racer so I want to do well.”
Kalle Rovanpera, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup
Goosens added: “I am very happy with Kalle’s arrival at RedAnt Racing. After conversations with his engineering crew from rally, I understand that in addition to his talent he also has the right work ethic to build success in a professional manner. I am very motivated, and can’t wait to support Kalle in his transition to circuit racing.”
There are six rounds in the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux calendar. Two of them (the first in Spa, 9-11 May and the fourth in Assen, 2-4 August) clash with WRC rounds, Rally Portugal and the Rally Finland, respectively.
Rovanpera’s 2024 WRC schedule beyond next week’s round in Sweden is yet to be announced, although it is widely expected the Finn will be present at Latvia, which makes its WRC debut in July.
Rovanpera is the latest Toyota WRC driver to dovetail a partial WRC programme with circuit racing outings, following in the footsteps of eight-time world champion Sebastien Ogier, who contested rounds of the 2022 World Endurance Championship, driving an LMP2 prototype.