This is the highest number of drivers from any one single country, including the Czech Republic, to have driven for ŠKODA Motorsport in its modern incarnation since 1993. And in that time Finnish drivers have clinched titles in the WRC2, Super 2000 World Rally Championship (SWRC), Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) and twice in the European Rally Championship (ERC).

Toni Gardemeister / Paavo Lukander, ŠKODA OCTAVIA WRC, ŠKODA Motorsport. Rally Argentina 2002

2002 - 2004
TONI GARDEMEISTER

Toni Gardemeister was 27 years old when he first joined the ŠKODA Motorsport. He spent three seasons with the team between 2002 and 2004, all alongside Finnish co-driver Paavo Lukander.

He arrived with six Top 6 results at the World Rally Championship (WRC) events already under his belt, including a third-place finish at the 1999 Rally New Zealand.

His ŠKODA Motorsport debut came in an OCTAVIA WRC at the 2002 Rallye Monte Carlo, where he finished tenth overall. In Argentina and Australia, he scored his best results of the season, finishing fifth and sixth respectively. In 2003 Toni steered OCTAVIA WRC to his season-best finish of fifth overall at the Rally New Zealand. His best WRC result in his third and final season with ŠKODA works team was a seventh place at the Rallye Deutschland in a FABIA WRC, while he also took a victory at the Exide Rally in Finland, driving the same car.

After ending his WRC career in 2008, his relationship with ŠKODA was rekindled in 2011 when he drove a FABIA S2000 in the IRC for his own TGS Worldwide team. Since his retirement from driving, his team has continued to work with ŠKODA and ran the FABIA S2000 and the FABIA R5 with which Kalle Rovanperä won Latvian Rally Championship in 2016 and 2017.

Jani Paasonen / Jani Vainikka, ŠKODA FABIA WRC, ŠKODA Motorsport. Rally Mexico 2005

2004 - 2005
JANI PAASONEN

Jani Paasonen and his Finnish co-driver Jani Vainikka drove a FABIA WRC for the ŠKODA Motorsport team in selected WRC rounds during the 2004 and 2005 seasons. Paasonen made his name when he was crowned class champion in the 2000 Finnish Rally Championship, a year in which he also finished fourth in the Production Car World Rally Championship (PWRC), and in 2004 he won both the Rally Sweden and Rally Argentina in the PWRC category.

In 2004, he was given the chance to drive the third works FABIA WRC and promptly beat both his teammates at the Rally Finland where he ended up sixth overall. He also drove the Wales Rally GB that year for ŠKODA Motorsport before returning in 2005 to make a strong start to the season, being the fastest ŠKODA driver at that year’s Rally Sweden, where he finished ninth overall. But three retirements in his other four events meant he struggled to build on that performance and his season highlight was a third-place finish at the International Pirelli Rally in Finland.

Janne Tuohino / Mikko Markkula, ŠKODA FABIA WRC, ŠKODA Motorsport. Rally Finland 2005

2005
JANNE TUOHINO

Janne Tuohino joined the ŠKODA Motorsport team as a 29-year-old and drove selected rounds of the 2005 WRC alongside Finnish co-driver Mikko Markkula. He made his name by being crowned Finnish Rally Champion in 2001 and followed that up by coming third in the Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC) in 2002 and securing five top 7 results at WRC events in 2004.

In 2005, he finished ninth at the Cyprus Rally in a FABIA WRC for the ŠKODA Motorsport team and claimed another top 10 finish at the Rally Finland. But that was to be his last rally in a ŠKODA until 2018 season when he drove a private FABIA R5 for Toksport WRT to fifth in the WRC2 category at the Rally Sweden.

Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen, ŠKODA FABIA WRC, ŠKODA Motorsport. Rally Japan 2005

2005
MIKKO HIRVONEN

Mikko Hirvonen joined ŠKODA Motorsport just for a single rally, the 2005 Rally Japan. He made an impressive start and sat fourth before crashing out on special stage 7. This one event was far from the highlight of an impressive career. He was already a Finnish class champion in 2002 before driving for ŠKODA and he went on to be a four-time WRC runner-up (2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012) and claimed fifteen WRC event victories.

Juho Hänninen / Mikko Markkula, Jan Kopecký / Petr Starý, ŠKODA FABIA S2000, ŠKODA Motorsport. Rally Russia 2009

2009 - 2012
JUHO HÄNNINEN

Juho Hänninen was a ŠKODA Motorsport driver for four years between 2009 and 2012, during which time he drove a FABIA S2000 alongside compatriot Mikko Markkula. Hänninen was 27 years old when he joined ŠKODA works team and arrived as a Finnish class champion in 2004, Finnish Group N runner-up in 2005 and 2006, the PWRC runner-up in 2008 and an IRC event winner (Rally Russia 2008).

His first ŠKODA Motorsport event was the 2009 Rally Monte Carlo which saw the first competitive appearance of the FABIA S2000 too. Hänninen led the rally from SS2 to SS8 and in doing so became the first ever ŠKODA driver to hold the overall lead at this famous rally. He subsequently crashed out, but in 2009 he took his first event victory for ŠKODA at the Rally Russia in the IRC. There was also a third place finish at the Barum Czech Rally Zlín on his way to a sixth place in the IRC final standings. He also won at ŠKODA’s home rally, the Rally Bohemia.