And proves why rally drivers are a cut above the rest.
If you're familiar with the name Kalle Rovanpera, then you're probably a rally fan and know he drives a Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 for Toyota's works WRC team. You also know he's the reigning WRC champion and the sport's youngest champion, at that, one already making a strong case for a title defense with a win at last weekend's Rally of Portugal. But you may be surprised to hear that this weekend, Rovanpera traded his Yaris for a rear-wheel drive Toyota GR Corolla drift car, not only competing at the Japanese leg of the Formula Drift series at Ebisu Circuit, but winning the whole damn thing on his Formula Drift debut, and in a car he'd never driven before.
You can watch Rovanpera's final runs in the video below from around the 2:48:30 mark onwards.
Rovanpera has made a strong case for the argument that rally drivers really are the best of them all - which is a common pub argument held among car enthusiasts. Competitions like the Race of Champions often seek to answer such questions and usually prove that rally drivers know what they're doing behind the wheel, but there's no test quite like proving yourself across multiple disciplines.
Rovanpera won the final after his tandem partner, Masanori Kohashi, had a messy lead run, leaving the track while Rovanpera managed to bring it home cleanly, and spectacularly so.
Drifting is not easy, and with the 1,000 horsepower produced by many a drift car, including Toyota GR-backed Corolla drift cars like the one piloted by Ryan Tuerck, being sent to the rear wheels instead of all corners as Rovanpera is used to in his rally car, his adaptability should be lauded.
Rovanpera will compete in four Drift Masters European Championship events this year, alongside his WRC commitments. Should he make a success of those, perhaps there might be a special edition GR Corolla named in his honor. That previously happened with a special edition GR Yaris, and Toyota has suggested there would be annual special editions of the GR Corolla in the US.
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