Judging by the number of drivers competing, it may seem that rally is primarily a sport for men. But it's definitely not! There are a number of women who play an important role in rallying. We would like to bring to you the stories of some of them. The first one to be introduced is a talented female co-driver from Finland - Enni Mälkönen.
You've had some interesting experiences in show jumping; have some of the habits from this sport been beneficial for you in rallying as well?
Yes for sure, I have had 10-year experience of competing in show jumping before starting rally. Horses are almost like drivers. You have to earn their trust. You must be calm but at the same decisive and clear in giving your instructions.
For what reason did you eventually move to rallying? Did you just want to keep jumping?
No, my horse was injured and his career was over after that accident. Then I decided to focus on one thing, rallying.
When did you and Sami first meet?
I met Sami for the first time in 2018, at a rally test. He was really young but even then he impressed me with his driving skills. We did our first rally together in the winter of 2021. It was the Arctic Rally Finland in Rovaniemi, which was part of the World Rally Championship. Sami's co-driver was busy at the time, so I stepped in at the last minute. We've been competing together ever since.
You started rallying at the world level quite quickly, right?
Before I started racing with Sami, I had already had 10 years of rally experience under my belt. So I would say I've done a lot of work to get to this level.
Do you have a special trick for writing the pace notes?
I try to keep my notes as simple and concise as possible when writing them down during recce drives. And at the same time, I'm also already thinking about how I'm going to read the notes at a competitive pace.
"Hopefully, as women in the rallying world, we set a good example also for young people who would like to make their dreams come true."
How challenging is the role of co-driver during a rally? Do you and Sami tackle race strategy and can you tell when he's really going all out?
Of course, we drive for the best possible result in every rally. The competition changes from special stage to special stage; therefore the strategy changes as well. Sometimes you have to dare to take risks but at the same time there are situations when you have to be smart and make sure that you reach the finish line. Rallying is definitely not an individual sport. As a co-driver, I am a driver's colleague and a member of the team. A co-driver has to perform a lot of tasks during the competition itself as well as before it, so in this role you have to be able to handle quite a lot of things at once. And sometimes you also have to make quick decisions.
How did you enjoy your great win in Finland?
The success at the home rally in Finland was of course great. But for me, the best celebration was that I finally got to eat a good meal and slept well!
What would you say to young ladies who are also thinking of taking up rallying?
Rallying as a sport is suitable for everyone. Hopefully, as women in the rallying world, we set a good example also for young people who would like to make their dreams come true: it is possible. Rally is an interesting and challenging sport and you can do it at many different levels. I welcome anyone who is interested to join the sport. You never know where your journey will take you. It's always worth a try! Follow your dreams.