Harri Rovanperä

Harri Rovanperä

Finland (FIN)


1989: Started rallying with Sumbeam Avenger

1991: Drives Ford

1992: Drives Ford

1993: His WRC debut in Rally Finland with Opel Manta

1994: Drives Group N Mitsubishi

1995: Switch to Opel, Finnish Champion 

1996: Drives Mitsubishi and Ford, joins SEAT, 8th in RAC (only F2 event)

1997: Ten WRC event with SEAT, Winner of six WRC events in F2 class

1998: Drives SEAT, 5th in Kenya, 6th in Great Britain

1999: Full WRC Season with SEAT, 3rd in Great Britain, 9th WRC for Drivers

2000: Drives SEAT and Toyota, 3rd in Finland, 9th WRC for Drivers

2001: Contract with Peugeot, 1st WRC win in Sweden, 5th WRC for Drivers

2002: Drives Peugeot, 2nd in Sweden, Kenya, New Zealand and Australia, 7th WRC for Drivers

2003: Drives Peugeot, 2nd in Cyprus

2004: Drives Peugeot, 3rd in Greece, 2nd in Australia, 8th WRC for Drivers

2005: Contract with Mitsubishi 

Date of Birth:
8/4/1966 at Jyväskylä

Marital status:
Married with Tiina, one son

World Drivers' Champion:
Not yet

Entries of WRC Events






Harri Rovanperä from Jyväskylä, centre of the Rally Finland, has been very convincing in making his way to be one of the top rally drivers in the world. His enduring and tenacious work was rewarded with the Finnish championship in the 1995 season.

The secret behind Harri´s success is his reliability. Only once during his career has he retired because of ditching his vehicle. A great show of good nerves is that many tight battles for a win have turned to his favour during the last few special stages. Harri´s technical knowledge in an irreplaceable asset while testing and developing the car. He is very popular among the spectators and the people who are professionally connected to rallying. For the Finnish conditions, he gathers an unbelievably large group of supporters for every rally.

He drove his first rally in 1989 and his name was soon on everybody´s lips, thanks to his hair-raising performances. With his old rear-wheel-drive Ford Escort RS he was able to make his way into the top ten in the Finnish championship rallies. In 1993 he was a Rally Finland Award recipient after an invincible spell in Finnish Group F rallying.

In the 1994 season Harri drove a Group N Mitsubishi Galant. He soon adapted himself to the four-wheel-drive car and won his group in his fourth championship rally. Technical problems later on the season and the ever toughening competition prevented him from climbing onto the podium at the end of the season; he hinished fourth.

For the season 1995 the team decided to drive a F2 car; an Opel Astra was chosen. Again, Harri made an amazingly speedy adaption to a completely new way of driving. His results speak for themselves: among factory supported drivers and cars, like Ari Mökkönen (Nissan) and Tapio Laukkanen (VW), Harri took five first positions, one second and in England he came third in Pirelli Rally. A marvellous show of professional skills and attitude!

In the 1996 season Harri made some excellent drives in Britain, including first ever overall victory for Group N car in Scottish Rally with a Mitsubishi. He drove also with a Ford before he joined Seat works team for '96 RAC Rally, finishing eight overall in his first ever visit to RAC. Next year he helped SEAT storm to another World F2 manufacturers’ crown. Contesting many unfamiliar events to gain experience of world series rallying, Rovanpera ended up taking five F2 victories, even on events totally new to him, like the San Remo.

In 1998 fifth overall on the Safari Rally was a spectacular achievement and fully deserved, as Rovanpera proved both fast and sensible. He had always wanted to drive a proper WRC car and would get his chance later in the year, chosen to lead SEAT into its new era with the Cordoba WRC. Early results were thin on the ground, but Rovanpera gave his best and scored the Spanish team's first points with the new car on the Rally Great Britain

In 1999 bad luck prevented the good results, but in Great Britain he scored 3rd place. On his last event with the SEAT team. Unfortunately for Rovanpera, he was blown away by new boy Toni Gardemeister - who rapidly became the apple of SEAT’s eye - in the first part of the 1999 season. However, in Sweden 2000 he was behind the wheel of Cordoba WRC, but all went wrong. Already In Portugal Rovanpera drove the event with a Grofone-Toyota, was fourth place overall and drove his second ever special stage´s fastest time. In Finland he surprised the whole rallying world. He was second fastest of the event but placed third overall when he was penalised for checking into a control too early. 

These great performances with a privately entered car were enough to secure his place in the works team for 2001. He had almost signed with Skoda, but then it came better chances. In 2001 he shared Peugeot´s third car with Gilles Panizzi. Rovanpera got a car for the minium of seven gravel events. Already in Sweden, on his first event with a works Peugeot, he was able to win a world championship rally and after that his program was extended to all gravel events. During the season 2002 he took four second places, was leading in Finland before retirement, and showed that he is able to win if everything goes well. 

In 2003 he shared again Peugeot´s third works entry with Gilles Panizzi. He took part in all the loose-surface events, but the season went not so well. The best performance came from Cyprus, where he took the second place. In June the FIA prefered new rules for the third car manufacturers for the season 2004. The third driver would be someone who haven't took a podium during the past three years. In August Harri Rovanpera and Freddy Loix were confirmed as team-mates to Marcus Gronholm for 2004. It was planned that Rovanpera will contest all rounds of the Championship in a full works car for the first time. Suddenly The FIA announced it´s new rule changes for the season 2004. To cut costs in return for expanding the World Championship from 14 to 16 rallies, the FIA is proposing that manufacturers run two-car teams, rather three. After that is was rumoured that Loix and Rovanpera will share the second works entry, both driving 8 - 10 events, but Peugeot decided to drop Rovanpera at the end of the season and it seemed that he have nothing possibilities left. Team boss Corrado Provera argued the decision saying that since he crashed out of Finland he seemed to have had a mental imbalance in his mind.

He was replaced by Loix - and Rovanpera replaced Loix after just two rallies of the season 2004. The team was not happy with Loix´s driving and before Mexico Peugeot had once again called on Harri Rovanpera for the next round of the championship. After Rally New Zealand they confirmed that the Finn will drive the second works 307 on all remaining loose-surface rounds of the 2004 World Rally Championship. During the season he was hampered by the new 307's poor reliability, was.leading in Finland before accident and took the second place in Australia on his last event with the Peugeot.  

In 2005 Rovanpera will lead the renewed Mitsubishi attack on the World Rally Championship, contesting all rounds and taking over from Gilles Panizzi as the team’s lead driver role. 

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