2004 - 2009
DRIVER OR CO-DRIVER?
His first rally as a co-driver came in 2004 when in February he supported Ari Laivola at the SM Osuuspankki Ralli in Finland. In October of the same year, he also drove his first event, at the SM Valvoline Ralli.
In the 2005 and 2006 seasons he was co-driving for no fewer than five different Finnish drivers. This included his first WRC event at the 2005 Rally Finland where he was supporting Vesa Mikkola, the son of Finnish rally legend Hannu Mikkola. In 2006, there were two more WRC appearances, at the Rallye Monte Carlo alongside Jukka Jalonen and at the Rally Finland alongside Jouni Arolainen.
In 2007 Tapio competed in the Rally Finland as a driver, finishing an impressive fifth in the Junior WRC standings and third in the A6 class. He also drove at the Uusikaupunki Ralli in the Finnish championship and was co-driver for three different drivers at a series of rallies in Finland, Great Britain and Estonia.
The 2008 season saw Tapio focusing on driving. He drove every round of the Finnish Rally Championship with his best results being thirteenth overall at both the SM Peurunkaralli and SM Keski Uusimaa Ralli.
He returned to co-driving in 2009 and since then has only driven a handful of events. His first full season as a co-driver was an eventful one as he took part in the Rally Norway in a WRC car, some European Historic Rally Championship events and events in Estonia and Finland. The season ended with two events in Asia. There was a first overall victory for Tapio at the International Rally of Thailand followed by a runners-up spot at the Beijing Huairou Rally in China.
Tapio Suominen at rallies
2010 - 2011
ALONGSIDE TONI GARDEMEISTER
The 2010 season proved to be an important turning point in Tapio’s career as his cooperation with Toni Gardemeister began. Together they took part in the WRC Rally Finland, finishing twelfth overall and fourth in the N4 class. They also finished in third place at both the Rally Latvija and the Rally Estonia.
In 2011 they competed together in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) in a ŠKODA FABIA S2000 prepared and run by Gardemeister’s TGS Worldwide team. They finished all but one of the IRC events in the top 10 with a best result of sixth place at the Barum Czech Rally Zlín. They ended the season ninth in the IRC final classification.
Tapio only had a limited programme of events in 2012 but was busier again 2013 when he competed in both the Finnish Championship alongside driver Jukka Hiltunen and the Chinese Rally Championship alongside Jari Ketomaa, with whom he again won the Beijing Huairou Rally. He and Ketomaa also took part in the Wales Rally GB in the WRC, finishing ninth overall and second in the WRC2 category.
Between 2014 and 2016 Tapio was mostly involved in cross-country rallies, mostly as a co-driver but sometimes as a driver too. In February 2015 he won the opening round of the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup at the Baja Russia Northern Forrest Rally as a driver.
2017 - 2018
DRIVING ŠKODA FABIA R5
Tapio began the 2017 season in historic cars rallying, but in Autumn, his cooperation with Juuso Nordgren began. Their first rally together was the WRC Rally Catalunya in a works ŠKODA FABIA R5, where they finished fourth in the WRC2 standings. They also drove the Wales Rally GB for ŠKODA Motorsport, finishing fith in the WRC2 standings.
In 2018 Tapio has been sitting alongside Nordgren again in a ŠKODA Motorsport FABIA R5 in the WRC2.