Overseas crews have always been made welcome in the British Rally Championship and on this occasion it a Finnish crew who take a break from their PWRC campaign to join the series. Driver Juho Hanninen DOB ...
Overseas crews have always been made welcome in the British Rally Championship and on this occasion it a Finnish crew who take a break from their PWRC campaign to join the series.
Driver Juho Hanninen
Lives Punkaharju, Finland
Car Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX
Co-driver Mikko Markkula
Lives Riihimaki, Finland
Production World Rally Championship leaders Juho Hanninen and Mikko Markkula will join the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship for the Pirelli International Rally in April. The announcement adds to the growing level of competitiveness of the UK's premier Rally Championship as the crew's profile clearly shows.
Juho Hanninen began his climb towards the top of rallying in the idyllic setting of Vaara in Punkaharju, Finland. His father was an enthusiastic and successful rally driver in his youth and he was the one who inspired Juho behind the wheel for the first time.
He began driving in sprints at fifteen, swiftly proceeding to Young Drivers sprints with Skoda within a year. He was a common sight on the sprint circuit in a Golf, eventually using it to contest a round of the Finnish Junior Championship in Mikkeli in 1999. Since then he has competed in cars as diverse as Volvo, Seat, Honda and Mitsubishi.
By 2000 he was winning class B Junior Championship events outright, using a Seat Ibiza in the Finnish Junior series in 2001 and 2002. In 2004 he won the N3 class in the Finnish Championship in a Civic, taking Group N podiums in Mitsubishis in the Finnish Rally Championship 2005 and 2006.
His debut in the World Rally Championship was in Sweden in 2006 where he won Group N, beating all the PWRC regulars. He repeated this feat in Sardinia with a second in New Zealand, rounding off the year on Rally GB with a switch to a Citroen C2 and victory in class A6.
A return to the PWRC in 2007 netted podiums in Argentina and Great Britain; a second place splitting Guy Wilks and Mark Higgins on their home soil. With retirement in Greece he ended the season fifth PWRC driver but returned to Sardinia in a WRC Mitsubishi, impressing many with eighth place overall.
He has already begun 2008 in style, the new season kicking off with a perfect PWRC ten in Sweden. He fended off fellow Fin Jari Ketomaa to win the event for a second successive year and now leads the Production World Rally Championship.
The 26 year old Fin's experience and recent good results bode well for his entry in the 2008 BRC, where he will be joined again by fellow Fin Mikko Markkula who has been part of the team since 2007.
Mikko began rallying in the same year as Juho and scored fourth in the Finnish Junior Championship in 2001. He took second place in the main series the following year alongside Jarkko Miettinen, the partnership netting him a Group N victory on Rally Finland in 2002.
He stayed with the Finnish Championship for the next few years, complemented by outings on the JWRC with Suzuki Sport in 2003 and with Skoda Motorsport's WRC driver Janne Tuohino in 2005.
2006 saw a move to the Asia Pacific and Chinese Rally Championships with Miettinen, as well as more JWRC and WRC events. His partnership with Juho and the RRE Sports Mitsubishi Team has seen the pair contest the whole 2007 PWRC together with a flawless start to their 2008 campaign.
Their involvement in the opening round of the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship will help to make the Pirelli Rally in April a truly International affair and keep the BRC regulars on their toes.