by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 55
Meet Flying Finn Juho Hanninen > WRCFEATURE > Loser Takes All FINDING the best and surest way to the top is a challenge which takes an unlimited number of forms in rallying. Being a Finn traditionally helps, but professional opportunities seldom come even to successful drivers in the Production Car world championship series. It was an interesting moment in the sport when Skoda invited Juho Hanninen into their IRC championship team for 2009, a rare moment in these days when a driver has made an upward career step. Juho made his mark when he led his first rally for them, the first rally the revamped team had entered, and the debut for their Fabia S2000 car. That was the Rallye Monte-Carlo. He went straight to the top of Skoda’s tree when he won Rally Russia less than six months later. That event meant so much to the Czechs, for many personal as well as commercial and sporting reasons. Juho’s initial rallying background has a familiar Finnish ring about it: "I started rallying back home in 2000 driving the Junior category with a VW Golf. My father had been an amateur rally driver, and he always had cars which I was able to drive for myself. “We had a lake nearby on which I could drive during winter and many smaller roads and fields where I could practise my driving in summer. My father was anxious to help me and give me the chance to get better. “We live in East Finland close to the Russian border, in Punkaharju. Ari Vatanen excepted, our region has not been famous for breeding rally drivers. I always went to Jyvaskyla to watch the Rally Finland with my father. I think the period that I most enjoyed were the years at the end of the ‘nineties when Tommi Makinen was at his peak. He was amazingly fast in Jyvaskyla. He was very talented. The Mitsubishi car was very good and the Ralliart team for Tommi were perfect." Until now rallying hasn’t been full time for Juho: "I worked on my parents' family farm and have been doing this since I was a small guy, and I still help there in between rallies. “To begin with I did five or 10 events a year. It was difficult at first – my parents were helping to pay but we did not have many sponsors, and I had no real future plan. When I started to get results in the Junior Championship it was encouraging. “When my results improved I got a better car, a Honda Civic. This helped me win the Finish Junior Championship, and then things got easier." Lasse Lampi is a person who has given Juho a lot of help: “This started around 2005 when I had moved on to driving four-wheel-drive cars, a Mitsubishi. He reckoned I was getting good results and started to help me a lot and this is still going on now I am driving for Skoda. “I had originally approached him and asked his advice about what to do and after a couple of rallies he came back to me. I was lucky to be able to trade in my Civic for an Evo VI Group N and immediately I won the Group N category on a Finnish Championship Rally with that car. I was then able to move on to an Evo VIII. I never drove in the official Finnish Ralliart team, but their manager Pekka Koski helped me as well." Private entries were made on various World Championship rallies, but these were often on occasions when the PCWRC championship drivers were not present: "Actually we did not specifically intend to avoid these drivers – we chose foreign rallies which came along at the right time of the year for us. I went to Sweden and then Sardinia in 2006 because those rallies were at convenient times, and the experience was very useful. I won Group N both times. It taught me how to drive on these big events. “Then we went to the 2006 Wales Rally GB with Citroen C2 Super 1600. We had discussed the possibility to do Rally Finland with the Citroen but that did not happen. I did not know what we were going to do the next year so we took the Citroen to Britain instead. That was a bit of an experiment but we again won our class. Lasse made all the plans with the Citroen people." Things did not always go 4