Published: March 3, 2022

Anssi Rytkönen and Juho-Ville Koskela, who work at Tapojärvi, started the SM1 rally season with a brand-new car.

The Skoda Fabia R5 is a factory-built race car with a modern powertrain, chassis, and lots of new technology. It’s responsive and requires the driver to be precise to get the most out of it. The car is unlike any of the previous races in the pair.

The SM1 series has a total of seven races during the season. There are around 20 teams in the class and the level of competition is extremely high.

The first round of the Finnish Rally Championship in Rovaniemi Tunturiralli went reasonably well for the Tapojärvi team, which finished sixth in the final standings.

In the second round of the season in Riihimäki went not so good and car was dug back onto the track with shovels.

– The car is very responsive and there are no pauses in the note reading. Things are happening fast and all the time. We’re not quite at ease with the car yet, but we’re gaining experience all the time, Koskela comments.

– We have not set targets for this season. We’ll do a lot of tests and try to get better special trial times. Maybe even better placings later in the fall. For example we’ll be racing against some guys whom drive professionally in the World Rally Championship. If we are around 5th or 6th in the standings this season in the fall, that would be a good result, Rytkönen reckons.

Anssi Rytkönen has one Finnish Rally Championship and two Finnish Rally Sprint Championships under his belt. The man drove his first race in 1999.

Juho-Ville Koskela has held a racing license since 2010 and his best career result is a Finnish Rally Championship bronze from last season.

The pair have raced together in around 40 races since 2017. Koskela describes Rytkönen as a hard-nosed driver. Rytkönen describes Koskela as a “branch manager” who, in addition to his note reading duties, takes care of a lot of the day-to-day running things.

– This is a team sport, where you drive 20 percent of the time and do 80 percent of the work is in the garage. Driving is the best part, but you don’t enjoy it if the equipment is not in good condition. We are lucky to have help for a good and enthusiastic team of volunteers, Koskela says.

Combining work and rally

Anssi Rytkönen works in Tapojärvi as a director of mining. Juho-Ville Koskela is warehouse worker. The racecar is decorated with the colorful logos of Tapojärvi and Hannukainen Mining companies.

The employer’s support for the sport is not just sponsorship. At best, it is a shared passion for motorsport.

Tapojärvi’s maintenance center in Keminmaa is home to several cars with the company’s logos, and perhaps a few other rally cars as well.

Some of Tapojärvi’s employees also compete in e-sports, including sim-racing.

The owners of the Tapojärvi Group, Markku and Pertti Tapojärvi, are experienced motorsport enthusiasts and act as role models for their employees who are involved in various motorsport activities.

– We get a lot of insight and tips on how to develop in the sport from the owners. Pertti, for example, is very analytical and gives us tips that we might not have noticed ourselves, says Koskela.

Tapojärvi enables working hours for those who practice goal-oriented sports to be arranged so that employees can participate in competitions if necessary.

– The rally requires a huge investment in terms of money and time. For example, my working hours are agreed well in advance and work is done either in advance or on weekends, explains Koskela.

Rytkönen and Koskela are preparing for the third round of the Finnish Rally. The race is on 4-5 March in Kuopio.

– We feel lucky to be able to drive Finnish Rally Championship with top vehicles in such a great team, Rytkönen sums up.