Former FIA Formula 1 World Championship race winner Heikki Kovalainen from Finland has revealed his plans to make his FIA World Rally Championship debut this season in the WRC2 support class.
Kovalainen retired from circuit racing last year after seven seasons in F1 and the Japanese Super GT series, where he claimed the 2016 title driving for Lexus Team SARD.
However, rallying is not an unfamiliar territory for Kovalainen, in 2015 he made his rally debut at his home rally of Arctic Lapland Rally where he claimed a podium finish in the SM1 class in a Ford Fiesta R5.
After his rally debut, he has only focused on the national Japanese Rally Championship. Between 2016 and 2021 he has driven a rear-wheel-drive Toyota GT86 CS-R3 and claimed only one overall win in 2020 with it.
After the 2021 season, Kovalainen has switched over to an older spec Skoda Fabia R5 for this year, a car that was used by his compariot Esapekka Lappi in 2015, the car is fielded by the Rally Team Aicello and he has won the two-first rounds of the season.
With Japan to be joining back in the WRC calendar for this season, Kovalainen has plans to enter the rally in the support-class WRC2 with the Fabia, he has also revealed for DirtFish.com that the Rally Finland round is in his future plans too.
“The plan is to do that, that’s a big motivation to do all these events beforehand, to get mileage in the car. It would be really interesting to do a bigger and longer event, probably some bigger roads.” Kovalainen told DirtFish.com.
“I believe that some of the roads we’ve used in some of the Japanese events will also be used in the WRC event, or some parts of them or in a different direction, but some roads will be familiar and the whole scene in Japan will be more familiar, so it’ll make it easier for me, absolutely.”
“The Japanese roads often tend to be quite twisty and narrow roads and hopefully the WRC roads are a bit bigger, so that’s really interesting for me.”
“It’d be really cool to do some stuff in Finland as well, Finland has got some extremely high-speed gravel roads as well. I’ve never done them but I’d be really up for it to try and see how it feels – I’d guess quite different!“
“Rally Finland would be real fun to do one day. But also I’m worried that it might be almost embarrassing because it’s probably going to be very hard in terms of trying to be competitive there. I probably need a few more goes at it and driving a bit more on those sorts of roads. People might be disappointed at how it went. But it would be really fun to do one day.”