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Tuuri Rally (Finnish Championships rally) 2024, 08.-09.03.2024 – result: DNF

The previous time when a race of this magnitude was driven in Tuuri was in 2001. It was called the Million Rally and all the Finnish top drivers of that time were there. I was not old enough to participate back then and because of my WRC calendar I was unable to drive in the other Tuuri area rallies over the years. Now I had a chance to drive in this homerally of mine. Being able to drive on my home roads made me eager and excited – enough!

At first everything went smoothly except for some difficulties in the dark because we lacked light power a bit and there may be some agesight involved. The daylight stages were much easier and went much better. My co-driver Enni Mälkönen and I were sixth overall after stage five. There were seven stages altogether. Stage six was driven on my Mom’s home road and stage seven on Dad’s. 

Stage six was quite long, 28 kilometers. My excitement level was extremely high because it was important to succeed right there. Everything started nicely until while driving on the test road of my youth on a right hand corner I turned in too early. The front wheel hit the icy bank which immediately rolled the car upside down. Nothing was to be done. The stage had to be interrupted and we had to wait for the other drivers to come and help turn the car on its wheels and push it aside. That was it for us but the others were able to continue the race. It was annoying and frustrating but maybe next year there will be another chance to drive and get rid of the albatross around my neck.


Arctic Lapland Rally 2024, 02.-03.02.2024 – result: General: 20. Class: 2.

I was really excited to have the opportunity to compete in Rovaniemi with my Toyota Celica ST185 (year 1992, category A). The car was the same one I drove at this rally in 2022. Today thisToyota Celica could be called version 2.0 because the car has been updated in many ways. Now it corresponds to a car Carlos Sainz won the Title in 1992. The car has almost 400 hp but it does not have the same aerodynamics and suspension travels as the rally cars of today but it is fun to drive.

We were able to cross the finish line in the race but there were some issues along the way. Aittajärvi 2 was the first stage on Saturday morning. Unfortunately our 4th gear in the gearbox broke down. I was forced to drive in 3rd gear and then change directly to 5th gear but we managed to get to the service. 

In the service the cluster had to be changed which led to a complication and thus more working minutes were needed. Finally the parts had been changed but our service time had gone 14 minutes over the limit and we were punished by a seven-minute-overtime penalty. We were in ninth position overall but due to our time penalty we dropped to position 20. Mikko Heikkilä won the rally with a brand new Toyota Gr Yaris Rally 2 car. 



Rally Hokkaido 2023, 08.-10.09.2023 – result: 1.

Rally Hokkaido was held in Obihiro where the rally had been held the previous time in 2007. I drove there in 2006 and 2007 but both times I went off the road.

Now I was participating for the third time but this time the race was a Japanese championship race and my car was Toyota Yaris Rally2.

As early as in January 2023 Akio Toyoda invited me to drive in Hokkaido knowing that Rally Greece would be held at the same time. The decision had been made so we kept it which meant that I did not go to Greece as the team principal, but went to Japan as a driver instead with Juho Hänninen as the co-driver.

The Toyota Rally2 car was still in the developmental phase because it would enter the series in 2024 but we wanted to get the data of the ongoing phase. 

Right away the first stage of the race (Rikubetsu) convinced us that the car had potential. I was five seconds faster than anyone else on the stage.

The car was very easy to drive, the engine had enough torque, the car had good grip due to its long suspension travels and the car was strong. With a good car and an able driver results were easy to achieve. I was able to drive at the same level that I did in Secto Rally Finland a month earlier. 

I won the rally by two minutes 16 seconds. Number two was Norihiko Katsuta (Takamoto’s father), who also drove Rally2 Yaris,  and Heikki Kovalainen was third.

The race gave us important data and information about the car and its performance. The Toyota people were very happy with the results. We are really looking forward to the premier of this car in the world championship series.



Lahti Historic European Championship Rally 2023, 10.-12.08.2023 – result: 1.

The traditional Lahti rally was ahead and I felt excited but to be honest I have to say that I was a bit tired after the Secto Rally Finland the previous weekend.

Luckily I forgot the tiredness when the flag swung.

After Jyskälä it was easy to start in Koukunmaa because it felt like I just continued my racing from where I was left in Jyväskylä although the car was of course not the same. It was easy and relaxed to drive but on stage two my co-driver Enni Mälkönen had to remind me that my Celica was not a Rally1 car. Drive according to that, she told me.

Day one went excellently but we lost gear number two. We had to change the cluster into the gearbox. 

Day two started near the Hämeenkoski area where on the first stage of the day the upper water hose of the cooler slackened spraying the cooling liquid on the windshield  making the visibility bad. We managed to drive to the service and the mechanics could fix the problem. Five liters of cooling liquid was gone.

The car ran well now that the problem was fixed but it was “breathing ” after the stages. However, Celica did not break and we got the seventh victory of the Lahti Historic Rally. After the race we had to fix the engine quite a lot, but that’s just motorsport!



Secto Rally Finland 2023, 03.-06.08.2023 – result: 5.

A huge dream of mine came true when Akio Toyoda, the chairman of Toyota Corporation gave me permission to drive in Secto Rally Finland after a break of four years in driving. This was my 210th world championship start. 

I had wanted to experience the hybrid technique of this new generation Rally1 car.

It was really exciting to return as a driver after being a team principal for some time now and to see what competing in the world championship series level felt like today. The week started by testing in Konnevesi where I was able to drive 150 kilometers with the car. Right away the car felt great. The power of the Rally1 car was a huge experience. About 530 hp with extra boost by electricity. The fastest car ever that I had driven, I thought.

The first stage of the rally was the legendary and traditional Harju on Thursday. I felt nervous.  I decided to drive through safely with no risks, because any mistakes would be embarrassing and people would remember them for a long time. I was ninth fastest, eight seconds slower than the fastest car. We lost quite a lot on the stage which was only 3.5 kilometers long but the car was undamaged.

On Friday the first stage was in Laukaa. After the rain the roads were wet and slippery. My intention was to honor the conditions and make good memories throughout the weekend. My co-driver Juho Hänninen made it clear to me that this was the intention of this race for the both of  us. 

We started the rally on Friday by being in ninth position but the wet roads surprised some of the top drivers. After their retirements we realized that we were fifth overall, one minute 24 seconds behind the lead.

On Saturday it was still raining which forced us to adapt our driving  to the conditions. Västilä felt like a fine stage but at the same time it was difficult because I could not trust the grip. No mistakes during the day although Vekkula felt like the Safari Rally at times with the ruts full of water.

On Sunday (Himos1) I was a bit too enthusiastic and attacked which caused a few moments. Right away my co-driver Juho Hänninen drew me back to Earth and stated that no more of such moments or he would step out of the car!

I drove a clean and safe power stage and was fifth. So, I received 1 extra point from Power stage and my overall results was 5th in the rally as well. Elfyn Evans won the race.

It was such an overwhelming experience to drive in Jyskälä in front of the home audience that I talked more than too much in the interviews  after the finish line but luckily the spectators liked it.



SM Pohjanmaa Rally 2023, 19.-20.05.2023 – result: Historic 1., Gen 5.

My intention in this homerally of mine was to drive over the finish line because the previous time when I was able to drive the whole Rally Pohjanmaa through was in 2018.

This time the rally was held in May, not in June as usual. The roads were a bit softer and there were fewer leaves in the trees which gave us more visibility.

I drove under a far back number of 104 which meant lines and ruts on the roads but luckily we didn’t have to drive in the dark.

Enni Mälkönen, my co-driver in the gravel rally of Kuhmoinen in February, took the co-driver’s seat once again. 

There was no pressure. I just wanted to drive and have a good feeling with no unnecessary reasoning. We had a great start because on the first stage on Friday we were seventh fastest. There was another stage on Friday where we were ninth fastest so after Friday we were in seventh position.

There were six stages on Saturday, the second day of the race. Our car worked perfectly and the brand new dampers made Celica trustworthy. We were among ten fastest on stages, made no bigger mistakes and because some of the top drivers had to retire it  improved our position. Finally Enni and I were fifth overall. Lauri Joona won. We lost about 1.3 seconds per kilometer to him which was not bad at all. 

My best result with Celica ST165 ever!



Kuhmoisten Soraralli 2023, 25.02.2023 – result: Gen 1.

The race in Kuhmoinen was driven on snowy gravel roads. My regular co-driver Juho Hänninen was on holiday so he asked if Enni Mälkönen could replace him in Kuhmoinen. Normally Enni is a co-driver of Sami Pajari. This was the first time for us two to drive together. Right away on stage one, five kilometers after the start, there was a double jump and maybe I came a bit too fast to that point so I landed on the road so heavily that the top of the damper came through the bonnet. I had to drive 17 kilometers with that broken top mount  which meant driving pretty carefully. Stage two was a rather short one so I thought that we could drive it through but all of a sudden the bonnet came out which confused me a bit. Luckily the bonnet hit the roof vent and flew over the roof not even breaking the windshield. For a moment I was thinking of what to do but all in all I decided to continue the race. In the service there were some locals to help us and we managed to assemble an iron plate for the damper top mount. We were able to press the damper into its normal spot but it did not absorb shocks anymore. However, I was able to increase my speed and drive faster. Of course I had to slow down whenever there were jumps or minor bumps. On stage four I thought that the nose of the car might rip apart. I had to ease my speed a bit more. Still I was able to win the overall. What an adventure! To crown it all my Dad drove into the snow after stage two finish line and our mechanics had to go and help him out of there. They managed to get Dad back to the road within the limit of the service time so no time penalty for him. In the end my Dad Jari was third overall and the fastest of his category.


Rally Legend (Classic), San Marino 2022, 14.-16.10.2022 – result: General 1st

In October 2022 I drove my first official race on tarmac with my  Toyota Celica ST165 and the race was Rally Legend in San Marino. My co-driver for the first time was Janne Ferm so new experiences were ahead.

The first stages were driven in the dark and, unfortunately, the lights of the lamp pod on my Celica were not as effective as the ones in the rally cars of today which gave me more challenge. I even tried to peek over the bonnet once and a while to see better. I do not know if it was the darkness or maybe I was driving too fast but on stage two I drove straight onto a hay bale in one of the chicanes. The bonnet and the bumper were damaged but luckily the lamp pod was okay. My co-driver Ferm did not exactly praise me!

The second day of the race went much better because I started to trust the car more and I also softened the rear suspension to get more grip while braking.

During the day I raced Andrea Zivian who drove Subaru. Every second stage he was faster, but the two last stages of the day were mine. I was able to get more gap between us two by increasing my effort while still staying on the road.

Sunday was the last day of the race and my lead was about sixteen seconds so I could slow down a bit. I tried to drive sensibly, which has not exactly been my style, but now it worked and I won the rally by 8,3 seconds. Zivian was second and Simone Romagna (Lancia) was third.


20. Lahti Historic Rally, Lahti 2022, 11.-12.08.2022 – result: General 1st

After a break of six years I was again able to drive this race which is one of my favorites. My first time in Lahti was in 2009 with a Ford Escort, later I drove there with Audi Quattro and now Toyota Celica.

The rally started at the Orimattila area and right away on the first stage the oil filter of the gearbox came off, spilling all the oil out. The car was now more or less only a two-wheel drive because there was no oil in the box and the pressure of the center diff was lost. A center diff shares the power between  front and rear axles. 

After stage three the car was fixed in the service and I could drive stages four to six normally but then again it was time for another problem. While pressing the clutch the sound of the car changed indicating that the crankshaft was moving. This was caused by the failure of the slack bearings of the crankshaft. If the crankshaft is able to move, it may cause total damage in the engine.  

After stage six in the evening service the mechanics decided to change the bearings from underneath because I did not want to retire. That was very challenging but my mechanics did a brilliant job and they managed to do the change in 54 minutes which was only nine minutes over the limit and our time penalty was only one minute thirty seconds. Had it been 15 minutes over the limit we would have been forced to retire. 

Day two of the race was driven at the Lammi area where stage seven, Ylänne, was my favorite. I drove as fast as I could which made my co- driver Juho Hänninen state in the finish that we had gone so much sideways he had felt it safer to keep his eyes on the note book and not look outside at all.

The stages of day two were very nice and the Celica ran perfectly so it was pure enjoyment.  

After twelve stages we won the rally by 2,5 minutes before Kari Kivenne/Asko Sairanen (Audi) and Sami Pajari /Janni Hussi. My sixth victory in Lahti with three different makes of a car.


Pohjanmaa SM-Ralli, Seinäjoki 2022, 17.-18.06.2022 – result: DNF

After a break of about two years I was on the starting line of this home rally of mine again but unfortunately I experienced some difficulties right away on the first road section: the clip of the turbo hose came loose. However, I managed to fix that problem on time before the first stage.

Still the car did not run properly on stages one and two because the turbo had broken in the tests and we had not had time to calibrate the spare turbo with the engine. The car nearly died in all the slow places and once even did so for about 20 seconds.

Day number two was rainy but we were able to fix the car in the service the previous night so our spirits were high. 

The roads were pretty muddy and very slippery at some places so the driving was not very relaxed. I really had to be awake when braking.

My best position in overall stage times was seventh and in the whole competition I was a few seconds behind position ten but once again I started to experience some difficulties. At first the right driveshaft caused problems and when we got rid of that the car caught fire in the finish of stage seven because the cooling pipe of the alternator had rubbed against the exhaust pipe. I was lucky to put the fire out and we were able to continue our race and started to drive towards the last stage but all of a sudden the car died on the road section just about five kilometers before the start. The battery was empty because the alternator did not work. The fire had broken the charger and I was a bit stressed and had not followed the alternator meter so that problem came as a bit of a surprise for us. So, that was the end of the rally for our part. Emil Lindholm (Skoda) won the Ostrobothnia Rally.

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