#09 Suzuki World Rally Team mechanic's portrait
: Esa Häkkinen
Facts & figures
Date of birth: April 1, 1963
Place of birth: Savonlinna, Finland
Family status: Married, two sons (20 and 18 years old)
Profession: Car mechanic
Hobbies: Motor sports
How did you become a rally mechanic?
I've been working with cars for all my life. First I maintained my own rally cars, when I was competing in the Finnish championship back in the late '80s and early '90s. Then I was asked by other teams to support them. I also looked after circuit racing and rally cross cars, among them the car of Toni Gardemeister, who participated in his first race in 1991.
How and when did you get the chance to join the Suzuki World Rally Team?
I joined the team at Rally Sweden in February. Toni's manager Pekka Hokkanen gave me a call and asked if I was willing to join the crew. Of course I was more than happy to take the chance.
What is your biggest strength?
I stay calm even in very stressful and difficult situations. This is maybe what my team colleagues like most about me.
What is your main weakness?
My biggest weakness is definitely my language skills. But my English is improving constantly.
What do you like most about rallying?
To me it is just the most exciting form of motor sports. As a mechanic especially, the engineering expertise that is constantly improving and being updated is interesting and challenging.
Have you ever driven or co-driven a rally car?
Yes, I have. I was driving a Ford Escort in the Finnish Championship and won two rallies. Overall I usually ranged between 3rd and 5th place.
For how long have you been working with Toni?
I have been working with Toni since the very beginning of his career. First I looked after his circuit racing cars, later I maintained his rally cars. Today I support him in the Suzuki World Rally Team, but also back at home, where we spend a lot of time with his private rally car, a BMW M3.
What is special about your relationship?
We know each other very well and don't need many words to describe e.g. if something goes wrong. And we fully trust in each other. That is actually the most important thing.
The WRC 2008 comprises 15 rounds. How do you cope with being away for so many weeks during the year?
In fact this is not easy. In my workshop I have two employees who are there full-time and looking after things when I am away. My older son is working, while my wife and my younger son are in school. She is just being educated as a nurse. Of course we miss each other a lot. But the good thing is that it never gets boring in our family, as there are always interesting things happening that we can talk about when I am back home.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
I hope that I will still be involved in rallying and am working with Toni, who will then have won the World Rally Championship title with Suzuki.