Neste Oil Rally Finland
28th – 30th July
8th of 13 rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship
Rauno Aaltonen supports MINI WRC Team on his home rally.
Jyvaskala , 30th July, 2011. With the World Rally Championship visiting his home turf, it would have been inconceivable that Rauno Aaltonen would not be on the Neste Oil Rally Finland to give support to the next generation of MINI drivers. He was there to repay the compliment after Dani Sordo (ES) and Kris Meeke (GB) went to see him on the Historic Monte Carlo Rally in January.
A very happy Aaltonen explained his role with MINI: “As a representative of MINI I have the honour to be here for both the road going MINI for the normal people and, as you know the rally people are not quite normal, so for them we have this MINI John Cooper Works WRC car. I think this is fantastic as in Finland the word MINI is synonymous with the word winning, and now, of course, the whole of Finland is expecting the MINI to win. However, we have to be realistic and understand that no car has ever won a world championship rally during its first year. I think we are doing very well indeed and the spectators say it is so nice and it is going well and they are all very pleased.”
Aaltonen has spent the three days of the rally both in and around the event’s headquarters in the central Finnish town of Jyväskylä, and in the Lahti region for Saturday’s remote service. He is no stranger to the rally as when he was rallying a Mini in the sixties he has been on the podium on this event that was then known as the Rally of the 1000 Lakes.
His packed schedule has included wishing the two MINI WRC Team crews – Sordo and Carlos del Barrio (ES) with their no 37 MINI John Cooper Works WRC and Meeke and Paul Nagle (IR) in no 52 – good luck when they left the service park each morning. He has also featured on tv and radio as a real expert on everything about MINI in rallying and the sport in Finland. Today he presented a MINI Countryman to two of his fellow Finns, Arttu Pihlainen, the world’s fastest downhill skater who won the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship, and Peetu Piiroinen, a successful snowboarder who won the Burton Global Open Series. They won these cars, which were given by BMW Suomi Oy, in races last winter and both have been customised according to the winners’ designs.
Rauno Aaltonen was born in Finland in 1938 and started his rallying career in 1956. In a long and illustrious career he has been famous for not only winning the European Rally Championship in a Mini Cooper S in 1965, but also going on to win the third Monte Carlo Rally victory with the car. The first win on this famous event for the team was in 1964 for Paddy Hopkirk (GB), then the next year it was Timo Mäkinen (FI) and Aaltonen’s win came in 1967. They were known as the ‘Three Musketeers’ and Aaltoen the ‘Rally Professor’.