Name Harri Rovanpera
Spouse Tiina Rovanpera
Stage wins 77
|Active years 1993 – 2006|
Role Race car driver
Total points 171
Rally wins 1
Children Kalle Rovanpera
|Born 8 April 1966 (age 49)
Jyvaskyla (1966-04-08) |
Co-driver Risto Pietilainen Voitto Silander Juha Repo
Teams SEAT, Peugeot, Mitsubishi, Skoda
Battle of the Generations | Kalle vs. Harri Rovanperä
Harri "Rovis" Rovanpera (Jyvaskyla, 1966) is a Finnish rally driver who competed in the World Rally Championship from 1993 to 2006. He drove for SEAT (1997–00), Peugeot (2001–04), Mitsubishi (2005) and Red Bull Skoda Team (2006). Rovanpera was known as a loose surface specialist.
Rovanpera won the small Group A Finnish Rally Championship title in 1995 at the wheel of an Opel Astra. After a few outings on his national World Rally Championship event Rally Finland, he was hired by SEAT to drive the SEAT Ibiza Kit Car, with which he won SEAT's third consecutive 2L World Rally Championship title in 1998. Next year in 1999, he took part in the top class World Rally Championship with the SEAT Cordoba WRC E2 finishing in the third place in the last event of the season at the 55th Network Q Rally of Great Britain. In 2001, he was hired by Peugeot. Driving a Peugeot 206 WRC, he took his first WRC win at the Swedish Rally. The same year he finished fifth in the overall championship only eight points behind the winner, Richard Burns, despite missing two rallies.
On December 9, 2001 Rovanpera also competed at the Race of Champions at Gran Canaria, and by winning the individual event and taking home the Henri Toivonen Memorial Trophy, he earned the title of Champion of Champions, he beat in the final stage the German driver Armin Schwarz.
The 2002 season began as usual with the Monte Carlo Rally, and Rovanpera competed in a privateer Bozian-Racing run Peugeot 206 WRC. He retired on the 7th stage with broken steering after an off; Tommi Makinen won the race in front of a penalized Sebastien Loeb, while Carlos Sainz finished third. The second rally was in Sweden, where Harri returned in the official factory-entered Peugeot 206 WRC, and he finished the rally in second place, 1'24" behind team mate Marcus Gronholm, despite winning two stages and leading the rally from Stages 3 to 14.
The next two rallies were Tour de Corse and Rally de Catalunya, both on tarmac, where Harri competed for the Bozian-run team; on both rallies he failed to score, finishing only 11th (Corsica) and a solid 7th place (Catalunya), on a surface he traditionally struggled.
The next rally took place on the island of Cyprus, where heavy rain made conditions treacherous. In this event, as in all the successive gravel events, Harri drove the official Peugeot works car; he finished 4th winning 1 stage. The rally was won again by his team mate Gronholm. The WRC circus moved then to Argentina, where Peugeot had a dismal rally, Harri retired after engine problems on S.S.10, Gronholm and Burns took first and second, but were both disqualified a few days later due to an illegal flywheel and illegal servicing respectively; so Sainz won the rally from Petter Solberg. In Greece, on a very hot and rough surface, Harri managed a 4th place, winning 1 S.S., the rally winner was Colin McRae.
The "World's toughest Rally", the Safari Rally, gifted Harri with a second place, 2'50" behind the winner Colin McRae, in a rally that forced many of the drivers to retire.
In Finland Harri had maybe his strongest rally of the season, in fact, he even took the lead in the 12th stage, but on the next stage he crashed and a front suspension part was badly damaged, forcing him to retire; however, the rally was won by teammate Gronholm for the third year running.
In Germany (newcomer race in the WRC) Harri drove an official car, as regular tarmac expert Gilles Panizzi was withdrawn from the event due to a shoulder injury sustained while carrying out DIY at his home. However, Rovanpera was forced to retire after a very difficult rally, which saw the first victory of Sebastien Loeb in a Citroen Xsara.
In Sanremo, Harri returned to the Bozian team, but on asphalt the Finnish driver struggled and finished ninth, whilst Gilles Panizzi took a stunning win after the injury just three weeks before.
The championship returned to the gravel for the final rush, in New Zealand Harri drove a faultless race despite a hydraulic problem, finishing second, 3'50" as teammate Marcus Gronholm clinched his second world drivers championship.
The championship continued in the southern hemisphere with Rally Australia, and Rovanpera finished in second place again behind his team mate Gronholm, but this time only 57" behind, and winning 8 stages of the rally.
The season came to an end in the forests of Wales, where Harri finished 7th and out of the points after a race full of mistakes. So the season ended with Harri finishing 7th overall with 30 points, 47 behind teammate Gronholm, but only 7 behind runner-up Petter Solberg.
In 2003 and 2004, he drove for Peugeot in gravel rallies, obtaining 3 podium places (Cyprus 2003 (2nd), Acropolis 2004 (3rd) and Australia 2004 (2nd)). In 2005, Rovanpera switched to Mitsubishi's factory team and competed a full WRC programme, finishing seventh in the drivers' world championship with only final podium in Australia, where was second behind Duval. After Mitsubishi suddenly left the series before the 2006 season, Rovanpera signed on to drive Skoda Fabia WRC for Red Bull Skoda Team in six events without any significant result.
In 2007, Rovanpera was a regular competitor of the SRC Finnish Rallycross Championship with a rear-wheel driven Ford Focus as well as a Volvo S40, but finished only 11th overall. He had many technical problems with both cars.
In October 2010 Rovanpera and his co-driver Jouni Narhi got the first overall in La Carrera Panamericana in a Studebaker 1953 just 12.9 seconds ahead from the Mexican driver Michel Jourdain, Jr.