Wales Rally GP 5 -7 December 2008

In the recce the conditions seemed terrible because it had snowed on Friday’s stages and on Saturday’s plus Sunday’s stages there were some icy sections. Luckily it got a bit warmer when the race was about to start which melted the snow and the ice. Still they had to cancel some stages on Friday and shorten some of them because of bad conditions. Ice and snow aren’t usually a problem as such but now we only have one kind of tyre and it has been meant for more summery conditions. On Friday I started the race a bit carefully but then on stage three I found my pace and after that I managed to drive without mistakes although twice I had a bit of a close call. I was leading the rally by 12.9 seconds when we came to the evening service. Sebastien Loeb was second and P.G. Andersson was third. On Saturday I tried to increase my lead but the conditions were so stressfully difficult that I couldn’t take any big risks. In the morning the roads had been hardened by the frost and in the afternoon the grip varied greatly depending on where the road ran. No bigger mistakes though during the day and I was still leading but only by 7.9 seconds now. The last stage of the evening was a Super Special in Cardiff. While driving there in the rush the clutch of my car started to smoke and I had to start the Super Special without launch control which cost me about five seconds. On Sunday there was a real battle on frozen roads. I drove as fast as I could but Loeb got closer and closer. I was the first car on the road so maybe Loeb had some advantage when he saw my lines because I couldn’t match his pace and he won the rally by 12.7 seconds. I was very disappointed at myself but on the other hand being second in the last rally of the season wasn’t so bad. And one has to be better than the best to beat Loeb. That offers a great challenge for the season of 2009. I am going to fight for the world championship title in 2009.

Invalid Displayed Gallery


Pioneer Carrozzeira Rally Japan 31 October – 2 November 2008

After the recce the weather started to cool down so much that there was snow on Friday’s stages 1/5 and 3/7. It worried us a bit but on Thursday night we heard that they had cancelled stage 3/7 because of bad conditions and that stage 1/5 was okay to drive. This made us feel a bit more relieved while thinking of the start the next morning. The first stage on Friday morning reminded of an RAC Rally from the 80’s because of muddy roads and snow on the banks. My rhythm was a little lost but when coming to the first service of the day I was second after Mikko Hirvonen who was leading the race. A moment of horror hit us in the afternoon when Francois Duval drove off the road hitting an iron pole and his co-driver Patrick Privato hurt himself badly. It sure made us think and it made us quiet. Some stages were cancelled after the accident which is why we drove only about 60 kilometers on Friday. I started Saturday morning in the second position, Mikko was leading and Sebastien was third breathing on my neck only 4.4 seconds behind me. The roads on Saturday suited me better and I managed to increase my lead to Sebastien by 50 seconds. I also caught Mikko by ten seconds. Mikko’s lead was now 15.5 seconds. On Sunday the conditions were probably the most difficult throughout my whole career. It was raining cats and dogs gathering mud and making huge pools on the roads. But all that seemed to suit me since I got closer to Mikko. I was only 4.9 seconds behind him when the team decided to freeze the situation. After that we just drove wisely to the finish, Mikko and I, and got a one-two result in the rally. Sebastien was third and made sure even before the last round in Wales that he wins the title fifth time in a row.

Invalid Displayed Gallery


Rallye de France 10 -12 October 2008

After being sixth in Catalonia it was nice to go on to Corsica. Now my self-confidence was on a different level from that before Catalonia. Even the weather forecast promised it would be nice and dry during the rally. On Friday my driving was better than in Catalonia but there were still too many mishaps in the beginning of the race. I almost drove off the road three times. The lead went approximately 0.5 seconds faster per kilometer throughout the whole day so I was fifth by the end of day one, about two seconds behind Petter Solberg and about two seconds in front of Chris Atkinson. On Saturday the roads were more technical than on Friday and they felt better for me except for the first stage in the morning. I passed Petter Solberg during the day and I was fourth now making the gap between us two bigger and bigger. I wasn’t far from the fastest stage times either. On Sunday morning Mikko Hirvonen had a puncture on the first stage and he lost so much time I passed him and I was third at this point. Even Petter drove faster than Mikko who was now in the fifth position. On the second stage it was Petter’s turn to have a puncture and now Mikko took the fourth position. I drove better and better and was able to drive one fastest time. Loeb and I had the same fastest time. And then it was time to start the final stage of the rally but both Duval and I had to be late for the time control so that they had to give us time penalty. That we did to let Mikko take the second position in the rally. My time penalty was 1.5 minutes because I was told to be nine minutes late for the stage start. But not even that was enough I had to drive more slowly to the finish, too. After all that strategy Loeb won, Mikko was second, Duval third and I was fourth. The team wanted to give Mikko a chance to try and win the title. Another reason was and is to try and win the title for the team. What I did meant a lot to the team but for me it was a disappointment.

Invalid Displayed Gallery


Rally RACC Spain 2 -5 October 2008

In Catalonia I drove a Stobart Ford while Francois Duval drove my Ford team car due to team’s strategy. I had no tests before the race because the team wanted to give Duval all the support needed to beat the Citroens on tarmac. I spent one day on the Alastaro track with Olli Haapalainen, though, to practice on tarmac. The two first days of the rally weren’t so good for me because of the lack of testing and because I had to set the car up over and over again during the race and all the setups weren’t for the better. On Saturday evening I finally found the right setup being eighth at that moment. On Sunday I was able to concentrate on driving only doing as Olli Haapalainen had taught me. I had a hard battle with Chris Atkinson all the way up to the last stage and I managed to win that battle by 1.1 seconds. I was finally sixth and Chris was seventh because Urmo Aava had to retire after hitting a stone. Sebastien Loeb won as expected.


Rally New Zealand 28 – 31 August 2008

The rally roads in New Zealand are the second best in the world after those in Finland. The mistakes of the two latest rallies had been forgotten and I was very motivated to get onto the podium. Friday started in the best possible way because I drove the fastest time on the first stage. After that my day was good but not as good as the morning: I made small mistakes which were shown in the stage times. I ended the day fourth while Mikko Hirvonen was leading the race. On Saturday I started to attack which paid off: I drove one fastest stage time and managed to drive as I usually do. By the end of Saturday I was leading the rally because of Sebastien Loeb’s strategy. I wasn’t necessarily happy for being the first car on the road on Sunday because there would be so much loose gravel. However, together with the team we decided to take the risk of sweeping the road. Yes, it really was slippery on Sunday. I drove as fast as I could but after the two morning stages Mikko took the lead and I was second. At noon there was service and after that we drove the same stages again. The roads were clean now but the lines after P-WRC cars were too narrow which affected my pace: Hirvonen built up his lead and Loeb was getting closer. The last countryside stage before the final Super Special was decisive. The differences were a few seconds before starting that 30 kilometers long Whaanga Coast stage: Hirvonen was leading; I was the second, Loeb the third and Sordo the fourth. I wanted to get to the podium but my dream was crushed approximately three kilometers after the start where I rolled my car and the front of the car hit a bank with a huge hidden rock. The rock broke the radiator and the cooler and that was it: I had to retire. Mikko Hirvonen had a puncture and rolled his car and ended up third in the race. Sebastien Loeb came and won the whole rally and Daniel Sordo took the second place. The third disappointment in a row for me but I have decided that the only way to go now is up!!!


ADAC Rallye Deutchland 15 – 17 August 2008

My target on narrow and fast tarmac roads in Germany was to take a top five position because my two-day test period was a success. The race started as I had wished. On Friday I drove smoothly without any mistakes and I was fifth by the end of the day. On stage five Gigi Galli had a bad accident which changed the stage into a road section. Also stage six was driven as a road section because of too many spectators. Stage one on Saturday morning started fine although the corners were slippery. The second stage of the morning went quite well but the third stage became my nightmare: three kilometers before the finish there was a long straight section then a crest and after that a chicane. My braking to the chicane came too late because of a slight error in my pace notes. I was going so fast I was afraid to drive straight on the hay bales so I tried to turn the car alongside the road. The rear end of the car hit the hay bales which threw the car into the field through a ditch. Luckily the car landed on its tyres but unfortunately it was stuck in the field and we needed people to push. All that took a minute and a half. The rear oil cooler was damaged and we had to fix it on the next road section. Because of that we got to the next service three minutes too late which gave us 30 seconds of time penalty. After rolling my car the race continued normally but my self confidence was gone. On the last stage of Saturday evening I was fourth and when the day was over I was ninth overall. On Sunday I had a chance to reach the seventh position but that wish was crushed on the first morning stage when one right after a jump went too wide and I landed on the pavement so hard that after a while the rear tyre went off the rim. That puncture cost us 40 minutes. The rest of the stages I just drove my own pace and finished the rally ninth. That and the whole rally left me pretty cold …


Neste Oil Rally Finland 31 July – 3 August 2008

Both I and the car were very well prepared for this home rally. About a week before the race I put my notes in order in the tests and I was ready to drive for a place on the podium, I was even ready to fight for the victory. The rally started with Killeri Super Special on Thursday. I was number six, 0.8 seconds behind Sebastien Loeb who drove the fastest time. On Friday morning I started smoothly trying to find the right rhythm and wanting to avoid stupid mistakes. My driving was clean and riskless which gave me the third fastest time in Vellipohja 3.2 seconds behind Hirvonen and Loeb who both had the same time. Then came Mokkipera. My intention was to drive similarly as in Vellipohja. Everything seemed and felt perfect until my world crashed. There was a combination of right-left corner going through a yard. I tried to cut a bit from the right hand corner to get a good and straight line to the left. But on the right there was a huge stone which I hit. My front tyre got damaged which I felt in the steering while driving on. I tried to think what could be wrong and then the connecting tie rod broke down and I lost the control of the car totally. The tie rod had twisted when hitting the stone and it broke down 300 meters later. The car went into a ditch where I drove about 100 meters until the car stopped towards a birch. “This can’t be happening! This cannot be true! Why again in Mokkipera?” I had to retire but luckily the car wasn’t too much damaged so we were able to continue on Saturday (Super Rally rule). The first stage on Saturday was Himos but my driving was lost after the events on Friday and I ditched the car in the fourth corner in a slow pace, though. I stepped on the gas and was sure the car would come back to the road but it didn’t. Fortunately there were professional spectators on the spot and they managed to get the car off the ditch in about half a minute and we were in the race again. Finally during the stages on Saturday I got back my self confidence and managed to drive three fastest times. Sunday was a short day and I enjoyed driving. I drove one fastest time of the three possible and took the car to the finish. I felt pretty empty because we were in the 39 th position and my intention had been to be on the podium. Hopefully next year I will able to drive a good home rally, but before that there will be many races and many corners…


Rally of Turkey 12 – 15 June 2008

I returned to Turkey after four year’s absence. The roads were now much wider and better than before. I also made totally new pace notes for this rally which was probably useful on some of the stages because the roads were different now. On Friday I had two punctures which took altogether about 40 seconds but I was lucky enough to drive the fastest time by 15 seconds on stage three and by ten seconds on stage six which took me higher on the results. Before the last stage on Friday Mikko and I were numbers one and two in the rally. Then our team decided that we should ease our pace and let Sebastien Loeb take the lead and sweep the roads on Saturday. Mikko’s position was now fifth and mine third. Saturday went without problems but my times varied a bit due to inexperience. During Saturday’s stages Mikko took back the lead and I took the second place 16.2 seconds behind him. Sebastien was 18.1 seconds behind me. Easing the pace was out of the question on Saturday. On Sunday all of us (Mikko, Sebastien and I) wanted to win the rally but there were only three stages left. On the first stage in the morning the engine of Mikko’s car stopped which helped me to get closer to him, I was now only 7.5 seconds behind and the gap between Loeb and me was almost the same as on Saturday. On the second stage in the morning I made a mistake in downhill braking and lost five seconds. On the last stage, which was about 31 kilometers long, there was a huge battle because the split times told me that Sebastien was getting closer and closer but he his tyres wore out and I could keep him behind. I really wanted to win but I could not catch Mikko on the last stage so I finished second 7.9 seconds behind him. I was extremely happy in the finish because for the first time of my life I could beat Loeb by driving and our 1-2 finish was very important to the team.


Acropolis Rally of Greece 29 May – 1 June 2008

The ceremonial start of the rally was again after five years at the foot of Mount Acropolis where I arrived being a bit thoughtful because I had driven off the road in the shake down and my car’s right side was slightly damaged. The mechanics fixed the car in half an hour, though, but still I was a bit annoyed. The race hadn’t even started properly and I had already been somewhat careless. On Friday morning when the race really started I had put my Thursday’s thoughts aside and was ready to push. The first three stages of the rally I drove fast but not flat out yet and I was leading Sebastien Loeb by 4.2 seconds before the first service. Friday afternoon didn’t go as well because the tyre slipped out of the rim and I had to drive about four kilometers with an empty front tyre losing some ten seconds. On stage six in the final corner where I had to brake the rear tyre hit a rock jutting out from the bedrock. This broke my rear suspension as it did for my team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Khalid Al Quassimi, too. My co-driver and I managed to strap the suspension up so that we were able to drive the road section to the next super special which luckily was the last stage of the day. It was painful to drive the super special with a damaged suspension – we were one minute ten seconds slower than the fastest driver. After Friday we were sixth in the rally one minute nineteen seconds behind Sebastien Loeb who was leading. On Saturday I started to push hard and we managed to be the second fastest car on each of the morning stages (stages 8 – 10) which now put us to the fourth position only 1.5 seconds behind Petter Solberg. Unfortunately Lady Luck turned her back on us again. In the start of stage 11 the turbo got damaged and I had to drive about 58 seconds with no boost pressure and lost over eight minutes. I was eighth in the rally after Saturday. On Sunday my plan was to drive good stage times and had a day of no problems whatsoever. All the six stages of the day went well and I even managed to drive three fastest times. That and because Henning Solberg had some technical problems took me to the seventh position. This was an extremely difficult race due to the worst roads ever …


Rally d’Italia Sardegna 16– 18 May 2008

This rally is one of my favourites and I started the race having the podium in mind. The first stage of the rally went perfectly. I drove the fastest time by seven seconds. The next one started well but unfortunately half way through the stage I had too fast notes and I took a right corner too fast hitting the bank in the outer corner. The car stayed on the road, though, but the rear tyre slipped off the rim and I had to drive about 15 kilometers with an empty tyre losing one minute forty seconds. After that I started to attack hard and by the end of Friday evening we were seventh Sebastien Loeb having the lead. On Saturday I was car number seven on the road which meant cleaner roads for me than for the leading drivers. I drove as fast as I could, sometimes 110%. I did the fastest time on every six stages of the day and ended up second with Mikko having the exact same time as him. We were about 30 seconds behind Sebastien. On Sunday Mikko and I got to try and catch Sebastien. We had an agreement that whichever of us two was the fastest on morning’s first two stages he was the one who could maintain that position and the other one was to be in the third position. I was able to catch Loeb five seconds on the first stage in the morning but Mikko was even faster than me by five seconds. On the second stage Mikko and I drove at almost the same pace but Loeb was again faster than us. It started to be obvious that we couldn’t reach Loeb and because I lost the battle for Mikko he was to be second and I continued as the third. Now it was just to bring myself and the car safely to the finish. My driving was relaxed, I was even able to drive the fastest time on two stages, Loeb made no mistakes, and so, he won. Mikko was the second and I was the third. This was Loeb’s 40 th victory. I was more than happy with my driving because after the puncture on Friday I was able to rise to the third place. But … I am a bit annoyed because I couldn’t get the best out of me at Sunday morning’s crucial moment…

Go to Top