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 noseof 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.
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.
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.
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.
After the Arctic Rally my intention was to drive in Savonlinna but unfortunately that did not happen due to timetable difficulties. Luckily this category F event in Korpilahti was found as a replacement. It was nice and warm because the sun was shining and there was lots of snow in the forests. Of course the sun made the roads soft which gave us a bit more challenge. There were bad lines on stage one and the snow beside the lines was mushy. It was really challenging to drive. If once went off the lines the snow banks were calling. Luckily the snow banks were so high that I stayed between them and on the road – the sides of the car became dented though. Stage two, Oittila (a familiar Rally Finland stage), was better than stage one but there was some slush on the road and I was unable to make my car run well. Stages three, four and five were all old Rally Finland stages ( Vellipohja, Leustu and Moksi). In Vellipohja I found a good feeling because I had enough patience to keep the front of the car in the line and follow the line. Both my co-driver Juho Hänninen and the clock liked my driving. After the last stage Juho stated that had I driven like that in the 2019 WRC I’d be driving there even today. Winning the overall in my first category F rally ever was a good result. Joonas Lindroos, who drove a BMW, became second.
I had been looking forward to this rally ever since 2006. That was the year I drove this rally (in Finnish ‘Tunturiralli’) the previous time. Unfortunately that race ended up in a snowbank in Ristilampi. Now, after 16 years of waiting, I was able to drive the rally with a classic car, Toyota Celica ST185. I drove in a category for old WRC cars because my 1992 Toyota Celica ST185 is not entitled to be in a Historic category yet. The car had been made lighter and better but right away on the first stage in Aittajärvi we realized that the suspension is not good enough on the bumpy and fast roads of Lapland and the power could not compensate for it. However, we had come to have fun and that we had. The power steering belt snapped in two in Siikakämä and I drove for about ten kilometers plus the Mäntyvaara stage as well without power steering. My arms were killing me after that. In the service the belt was changed, the car was okay again and it was time to have the night break. On Saturday morning the first stage was new and over 40 kilometers long, Ahmavaara. After four kilometers a conrod came through the block and that was it. We had to retire. Before the rally we serviced the engine, we put new bearings and pistons but left the old conrods which was a mistake. What seems good on the outside is not necessarily strong on the inside!
The final round of the Historic Rally Trophy 2021 was driven in the Hartola and Sysmä area. That was the final rally of the season for me as well.
The conditions reminded me of those in Wales: cold wind, a little bit of rain and muddy roads.
However, my Celica did well but the driver started to lose his energy reserve before stage three which led to the lack of concentration. A couple of times I almost drove off the road but my co-driver Juho Hänninenmade me pay attention to my mistakes and I was able to keep the car on the road. The video clip on social media of that has woken up nice feedback.
In this rally there were six stages which went without any technical problems. The result was good: the fastest drive overall and the victory in our own category.
The WRC was on the summer break so I was able to find a free weekend in my busy schedule to go and participate in a rally in Kerava where I did have last year’s victory to defend.
There were four stages, all driven once.
The first stage that I drove cautiously was the longest (18 km). The conditions were dry. The line was clean and narrow because the 2-wheel-drive cars had driven through so it was a bit difficult for me to fit in and there was one incident on the way. The car was completely sideways but luckily I managed to get it straight.
I drove the fastest time on stage two where the road was wide and the surface of it was hard country tarmac. Now I started to push more.
On stage three I kept on braking too much but before stage four Juho Hänninen and I made a plan; to drive fast with straight lines which should improve times. It worked and we drove the fastest time on that stage. The rally ended so that I was second overall after Riku Tahko who won by 11,4 seconds. Kalle Markkanen was third. He was 2,8 seconds slower than me. All in all, becoming second between two WRC2 cars was a good result.