Assault on youth power in the World Championships

The emergence of two sons of illustrious pilots, Kalle Rovanpera, the youngest leader in history, and Oliver Solberg, who surprised in his debut, revolutionizes the stages.


No more age barriers in rallying. The specialty of special stages is experiencing an unprecedented generational change with the arrival of very young drivers at the top. Two sons of illustrious pilots, Kalle Rovanpera and Oliver Solberg, are breaking precocious records hitherto unthinkable in a sport in which experience was until now a fundamental premise.

In most countries it is not possible to start competing in rallies until the age of 18, a factor that until now has prevented the appearance of teenagers in the World Cup as has been happening in Formula 1 since the 'PlayStation generation' appeared. A trend that has been changing since years ago we began to see videos of a boy named Kalle skidding without almost reaching the pedals of the car, and shortly after another boy whose name is Oliver doing the same.Of course, when we learned their surnames, Rovanpera and Solberg, the story began to take shape. They were the children of two stars. At the Finalndia Rally they both took another step to break age barriers in rallying. Kalle became the youngest driver to lead the World Championship in his 20s, and Oliver surprised locals and strangers in his extraordinary debut with a 'black leg' car with which he raced a whole Sebastien Ogier at age 19. Both They are called to write the future of the specialty.

The first challenge is to break the precocity record by achieving a victory. At the moment it is held by Jari-Matti Latvala with his triumph in Sweden in 2008, when he won at 22 years and 313 days. Rovanpera, who already got the earliest podium last year in Sweden at 19 years old and is now the youngest leader at 20, has more than two years to beat it. And to improve that of the youngest champion, who is in the hands of the late Colin McRae at 27 years and 109 days, he still has more margin. And let's not say Solberg, who is a year younger.

A phenomenon that is not alien to the International Automobile Federation, which has created a youth recruitment program, FIA Rally Star, which starts from video games at an early age. The legal age barrier to compete can be circumvented by racing in countries such as Estonia or Latvia, where it is possible to participate in a rally without a license, as long as the co-driver drives on the links that are made on the open road. Something that Rovanpera and Solberg took advantage of in their young years, and that may be the way forward for all those who want to prolong this 'baby boom' in the special stages.

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