Behind the Secto Rally Finland scenes: Keiko Ito

Keiko Ito. Photo: Stéphanie Pichard.

Everything you always wanted to know about a journalist and translator who chases the best drivers’ quotes around the world. Some words with Keiko Ito. 

Keiko, how would you describe your job?

I’m a translator by trade but I’m a journalist on the WRC because I like to interview and talk to people. 

I mainly work for Rally Plus, a Japanese Magazine that my job includes a lot of Twitter (“X” now) quotes. 

What was your dream job as a kid

I wanted to own a stationary store. 

How did it all start

As a child, I lived in France and Italy and learnt the languages so languages were my strong points. 

Then I went to work for a French fashion design company, Daniel Hechter, who designed the Larrousse F1 teamwear as their technical sponsor. In 1989, Yannick Delmas became sick and had to be replaced for the Japan F1 Grand Prix. Larrousse F1 chose Aguri Suzuki and I had to take care of the contracts while I was not interested in motorsports. 

In 1999, Fred Gallagher came to Japan as an adviser for the rally and I was his translator. I had to learn all the rally terms in four languages, Japanese, English, French, and Italian. Now I conduct interviews in those four languages. 

Again in 1999, Hideaki Miyoshi participated in the Safari Rally and I was chosen as his translator. It was my very first WRC round. I also took some young ones around some rallies so they could write for some comics and mangas. Then I also translated for Arai who was the first Japanese driver at Subaru. 

Tell us about the most amusing situation you have found yourself in? 

2008 to 2017 we prayed for Toyota to come back and … it worked! We continuously had faith, we absolutely needed a Japanese manufacturer in the WRC and now we also have Taka. We also have a program to train young Japanese drivers. It’s great to see more and more Japanese involvement.

I know it’s very incorrect to ask but who is the driver you wish the best this year

Taka of course! I’d like him to win a rally, he’s so driven and adding a lot of pressure on himself. I’m sure he’s about to win a rally

One rally special to you and why?

Safari, it was my first ever rally. There is an incredible atmosphere, incredible people.

What can you tell us that the rally community doesn’t know about you?

I took my driving license many years ago and since then, I have NEVER driven a car!

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