Lauri Joona, 23, has been selected as winner of the Flying Finn Future Star prize contested within the R2 class of the Finnish Rally Championship. The win secures him a supported prize-drive in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship for the 2021 season.
The winner was chosen from the group of junior drivers (under 25 years of age) in Finnish Rally Championship Class 3, driving with an M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2 on Pirelli tires, and managing to finish the championship in the top 5 of their class. This year, three drivers made it to the selection: Lauri Joona, who also grabbed the gold medal in the class overall, last year’s Flying Finn Future Star winner Sami Pajari and Jani Luhtaniemi.
This time, the selection was made by the Finnish ASN’s Rally Commission, together with Championship Promoter Kai Tarkiainen. The choice was not easy, as especially the duo topping the Championship standings, Joona and Pajari, were extremely equal.
– Lauri Joona has developed a lot over the past few years. Not only as a skilful rally driver, but also as an athlete, and has thus convinced us to be worthy of this prize. His latest championship season was very impressive, and he finished it on the top of the podium. He has a lot of mileage under his belt considering his age, having started already seven years ago – we’ll hear from this guy yet, says Markus Silfvast, Chairman of the Rally Commission.
Lauri Joona, who turns 24 in December, was happy but confused hearing of his win.
– When I was told the news, I felt like “can this be true”! Our season has been great, and everything has gone as well as one could expect. We really hit the Jackpot this year, which really means a lot for the future, Joona said, describing his feelings after the selection.
Financial backing for Junior WRC opens the world
As a prize for his selection, Joona will receive a supported prize-drive from AKK Sports and its partners, M-Sport and Pirelli. He will be able to show his skills against young international talents, all in M-Sport Ford Fiestas, in the FIA Junior WRC in its five rounds contested as part of the FIA World Rally Championship. The JWRC calendar will be announced at a later date.
– So far, we have mainly been driving in Finland, but now we are heading for a whole season abroad. For me, this is a huge opportunity and an important step on my career, Joona comments.
Previous winners of the Flying Finn Future Star competition
2019: Sami Pajari
2018: Henri Hokkala
2017: Emil Lindholm
2016: Juuso Nordgren
2015: Jari Huttunen
2014: Teemu Suninen
Lives in: Sastamala
2013: first rally in Orimattila, with a Ford Focus V1600 (standard car class)
2016 & 2017: first in V1600 class in Suomi Cup (run together with the FRC)
2019: Rally Finland, third in Class 4 (R2)
2019: Finnish Rally Championship, second in R2 class
2020: Finnish Rally Champion, R2 class
Flying Finn Future Star Jury 2020
Picture: Taneli Niinimäki/AKK