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WRC champion Rovanpera eyeing 24-hour circuit racing debut

World Rally champion Kalle Rovanpera could be set to make his endurance racing debut this year in the Fuji 24 Hours in Japan.

Kalle Rovanpera, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Rovanpera has declared an interest in taking part in circuit racing events this year after announcing plans to contest a part-time WRC campaign this season to “recharge his batteries”, before making a full-time return in 2025.

The 23-year-old double WRC champion revealed at last month’s FIA Prize Gala that he would like to test a GT car, and now he has been presented with an opportunity to race in the Super Taikyu Series' 24 hours race at Fuji Speedway on 25-26 May.

Toyota chairman Akio Toyoda revealed during a talk show at the Toyota Auto Salon that Rovanpera would drive a Toyota GR86 concept run by Toyoda’s own team ROOKIE Racing.

Rovanpera’s WRC schedule is yet to be fully finalised, although it is expected that Rally Sweden in February will mark his first round after sitting out next week’s season opener in Monte Carlo. 

Toyota WRC boss Jari-Matti Latvala has confirmed that Rovanpera does have an opportunity to compete in the Fuji race, but it is yet to be fully finalised. Latvala is also likely to compete in the race again, having done so the last two years, driving a hydrogen-powered Toyota GR Corolla.

#32 ORC ROOKIE Corolla H2 concept

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

#32 ORC ROOKIE Corolla H2 concept

“This [endurance racing] is where Kalle has a huge interest. Before Rally Japan last year, we visited one of these events in the Super Taikyu series and when Kalle came into the pits and saw all the cars and the ROOKIE Racing team he got quite excited, and he asked Akio if he could join, and Akio said yes. The opportunity is there if everything is matching time-wise,” Latvala told Motorsport.com.

“The idea was that he would be running [in car 28] and it is 90% there but there is still a question mark over his timetable. Akio would be very happy to see Kalle over there.

“Endurance racing is something I personally like a lot and I think Kalle will as well. This car, the GR86, is already a fast car. But with Kalle being good on tarmac, and he can do drifting, so I’m sure he will do really well on the race circuit.”

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