Co-Drivers Hämäläinen and Mälkönen make history, become WRC Champions
Finnish co-drivers Reeta Hämäläinen (WRC2) and Enni Mälkönen (WRC3, Junior WRC) made history as both became WRC Champions after remarkable seasons co-driving Sami Pajari and Emil Lindholm. Discover more about the two history-making women.
A few weeks ago Enni Mälkönen had become the first ever woman to secure a title in the WRC3 championship, claiming co-driver titles in both WRC3 and Junior WRC. It was the first time ever in the history of the World Rally Championship that a woman had clinched a title in one of the classes.
In the past, Mälkönen competed in show jumping - but after her horse was injured, she decided to switch to motor racing in 2012. Rallying, though, was not a complete novelty for the young Finn, as her father had been competing as well, and passed on the passion to her daughter.
Together with driver Sami Pajari, Mälkönen had a great season in WRC3. Although Pajari couldn't defend his WRC Junior title from 2021, Enni's results were enough to take both co-driver titles in WRC3 and Junior WRC - thus making history in WRC.
"It is a dream come true indeed", Mälkönen explained. "Ten years ago it seemed anything like this would be out of this world, but here we are now."
"It has been a difficult path at times, but I wish to thank all those who have made it possible with me. Of course, my path is not finished yet and there are more steps to take, but at the same time I hope I can and have set an example for other inspiring young women to follow" - she added.
Sami Pajari and Enni Mälkönen will step up to WRC2 next season with a WRT serviced Škoda Fabia Rally2 for Toksport. The team has in fact clinched the title this year with Emil Lindholm and Reeta Hämäläinen; the Finnish duo of Pajari/Mälkönen was already able to join four rallies in the WRC2 category in 2021 and showed a promising pace and performance. In Japan, they briefly led the timings and showed a glimpse of what can be expected from them next year, when the fast Finns will compete in their first WRC2 full season.
Reeta Hämälinen and Emil Lindholm did not have the best start of their season - having crashed out of Rally Sweden, but they sure picked up the pace along the year, with podium finishes in Croatia and Estonia. Victories in Finland and Greece brought them important points, followed by a missed opportunity in Spain. Ultimately, they got the job done in Japan, where Lindholm and Hämälinen scored both driver and co-driver championships. "Thank you team Emil", said Hämälinen. "Just unbelievable work throughout the whole season. Thank you team. You are incredibly skillful professionals. Thanks to everyone in the background and to everyone who has been helping make this possible for us." "Thanks to our sponsors who have made the entire season possible for us to compete and made it possible to drive here in Japan and to fight for the championship. Thanks to all rally organisers. Thanks to everyone in WRC. Thank you to each and everyone of our fans. Thank you." - Hämäläinen concluded at the end of an emotional weekend. It´s not announced where Emil Lindholm and Reeta Hämäläinen will compete next season but the hope is for another WRC2 campaign or the step up to WRC, the highest class of the rally world championship.