BMW April 2022

The younger generation is in ascendency: have you noticed how the younger generation is coming to the fore in recent times, especially in sport? Motorsport is one of those disciplines where they are making a big impression. 

Kalle Ravenporä has already won two World Rally Championship (WRC) events in 2021 – Estonia and Acropolis – in a Toyota Yaris WRC before turning 21, while Oliver Solberg, also 20, is a regular in the Hyundai WRC team with a best position to date of seventh overall. Both their fathers were prominent rally drivers, so motor sport is obviously in their genes. 

Kalle Ravenporä, is a Finn who was born on October 1, 2000, and became the youngest winner of a round of the WRC when he took the honours in the Estonia Rally earlier this year. He subsequently won the gruelling Acropolis Rally in Greece, while in 2019 he won the World Rally-2 Pro Championship so was already on the path to world fame. 

His father, Harri, competed in the WRC from 1993-2006, winning the 2001 Swedish Rally in a Peugeot 206 WRC. He also had a spell driving for Toyota when he competed in a Corolla WRC as that Toyota was winding down its rally programme to enter F1 racing.

Oliver Solberg is a Swedish Norwegian, who was born on 23 September 2000. He has a Norwegian father, Petter, who was the 2003 WRC champion, while his mother, Pernilla Walfridsson, is a Swede who was also an accomplished rally driver, so he has the correct pedigree. 

Formula 1 racing is another motor sport discipline where the younger generation is making waves. Max Verstappen, now a contender for the world title, was the youngest driver to start a World Championship F1 race when he started the 2015 Australian Grand Prix at the age of 17 years 166 days. He then became the youngest winner of an F1 race when he took the chequered flag in the Spanish Grand Prix in 2018.

Now Lando Norris, born in Bristol to a British father and Belgian mother, is making his mark for the famous McLaren team. He will only turn 22 in November, but has already been on the podium four times, with a best finish of second in the Italian Grand Prix in September.

Another youngster hitting the motor sport headlines is George Russell, who will leave Williams at the end of the year to replace Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes-Benz as Lewis Hamilton’s teammate. Russell, who is 23, has had only one podium to date, but made a huge impression when he substituted for virus-hit Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix earlier this year.

Charles Leclerc, from Monaco, is another young shining star. He is only 23 but has already scored two race wins and 13 podiums racing for Sauber Alfa Romeo and is now a member of the famous Ferrari team.

Tennis is the latest sport where young people are really rocking the establishment. The biggest shock was having two unseeded teenagers contesting the women’s singles final at the 2021 United States Open. Eighteen-year-old Emma Raducanu, of Britain, who came into the final stages of the tournament as a qualifier, went on to win this coveted Grand Slam title. She was the youngest Grand Slam women’s finalist since 17-year-old Maria Sharapova upset Serena Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final. The other 2021 finalist, Leylah Fernandez is only 19 and this was her first time on the big stage at a Grand Slam. Before this tournament Radacanu was ranked 150th and Fernandez 77th.

Carlos Alcaraz, an 18-year-old Spaniard, also rewrote the history books as the youngest Grand Slam quarter-finalist since Michael Chang reached this stage of the 1989 French Open at the age of 17. On his way to this stage of the 2021 US Open Alcaraz eliminated the highly fancied third seed, Stefanos Tsitsipas, of Greece, who is himself only 23. Unfortunately, Alcaraz retired hurt in the quarter-final, but he had already made his mark in world tennis.

Fear changes a passenger’s colour: We had a real-life nature study lesson recently.  Driving from Knysna to Plettenberg Bay I put on the wipers to clean the windscreen only to see one of the wiper arms was carrying a passenger. We thought it was a small mouse, but when we stopped at the side of the road, we found that it was a baby chameleon. We reckon it probably fell onto the windscreen wiper arm from the Yellowwood tree above our parked car in Knysna. I got it to climb onto a small branch and then put it in a forest as a new home. 

What was interesting was checking out on Google why the little chameleon was pitch black. Evidently this happens when they are very scared, stressed, or cold and in this case if could have been a combination of all three factors.


By Roger Houghton