The TV and radio star turned WRC co-driver

Fourteen months after accepting a challenge to compete, Janni Hussi is about to make her WRC debut


You never know who’s listening…

Just ask Janni Hussi, who likely didn’t expect a call live on air from 2021 Junior World Rally champion Sami Pajari, setting her a challenge.

Discussing how difficult (or not) rally driving and co-driving would be on her radio show, Pajari called her bluff.

“If it’s not that hard, do you want to come and try?”

So there Hussi was – an actress, TV and radio star by trade co-driving Pajari on the Lahti Historic Rally last year, in a Ford Escort Mk2 no less.

The pair finished third, and suffice to say Hussi loved it.

Just 14 months later, she’s getting ready for her first start in the World Rally Championship ahead of a full season next year.

Her story is simply incredible.


“I mean I still have to pinch myself, I can’t believe it’s actually happening,” Hussi tells DirtFish.

“I’ve been doing co-driving only 14 months, and I could never… I mean it was supposed to be just a one-time thing, like once in a lifetime experience in Lahti Historic Rally last year.

“It all started with a joke from my former job in radio and here we are, all of a sudden, doing a full program of WRC2!

“So it’s unbelievable. Life is amazing.”


Between that debut alongside Pajari and Central European Rally in two weeks, Hussi has sandwiched in an extra event with Pajari (which they won), Rally Regione Piemonte with Secto boss Matias Henkola where they unfortunately retired with a double puncture (but Hussi amusingly pointed out “there are good wineries close so it was OK!”) as well as a full Finnish championship season alongside ex-Formula 1 driver Heikki Kovalainen.

But it’s with 2022 WRC3 champion Lauri Joona where her future lies.

The Finnish pair have already done two European Rally Championship rallies together – Royal Rally of Scandinavia and Rally di Roma – peaking with a top-five finish in Sweden.

CER is all about building up their experience before they take on a full WRC2 program in 2024.


“Next year it’s to go flat out, but now it’s just getting experience,” Joona says. “It will be the most challenging rally of the year I think if it’s wet and everything like that, darkness… oof! We like the challenge!”

Joona is an exciting driver for Hussi to pair up with, given his under-the-radar progression through the ranks. In a WRC2 field as fiercely stacked as this year’s, it’s very hard for a first-term driver to make an impact, but Joona has been showing great signs of improvement.

“Always there is new things to learn and for this year it has just been about getting experience about the rallies and the new car, but for next year it will be a totally different challenge,” Joona explains.

“As you said it’s a really competitive class, and really hard to reach the top.

“At the end of the [2024] season I hope we can be on the top three, but you never know. It depends how fast we can drive, but on the last rally in Greece we did two stage wins so it gives me more confidence to do more things for next year, and we will try to give our everything.”

There’s no doubt that stands for both members of the crew. Rallying is Hussi’s life now.

“We actually went to my former radio station this morning to interview,” she shares, “so I remembered why I loved it so much.

“I still love the job, but this is what I want to do now.”


And she’s come a very long way to reach this point.

“I used to work for Rally Finland, I was like an official rally girl there so I was at the podium giving champagne to drivers and giving the prizes for the winners and hosting the VIP stages also. So that was my first touch to rallying – very different to what I’m doing now!” Hussi laughs.

“And my first time in a rally car was 2018 when Hayden Paddon was doing a sponsors’ day after Rally Finland, so that was my first time inside the rally car, and I remember, because we were jumping and the road was turning to the left, I still can remember the feeling, I was sure I was going to die there!

“We were in the air and the road was going to the left and we were still going straight, and I was so scared. At that time I could never believe that I would actually do co-driving myself.


“Like I said it was supposed to be only a once in a lifetime thing – great, amazing experience. But after the first rally with Sami, the next week I ordered my own helmet and HANS and everything.

“I was like: ‘This is it – love at first sight!'”

Hussi’s eyes light up as she talks about it. And it’s not just me that’s noticing it – anyone that’s followed her story has too.

“One important thing we’ve noticed that while we are working together [is] there’s a lot of interest in what we are doing,” Hussi says.

“There are so many people that come to us and say, ‘Hi, I never watched rally before but now when you two got together I got interested to spectate, follow on social media,’ and they actually got into rallying.

“Even some young girls come to me like, ‘Hey, I didn’t know this was possible for me, I really want to be a co-driver too’. So I think there is a very positive movement towards rallying in Finland right now.

“I feel like we are engaging people who never were into rallying before. It’s maybe because we are easy to approach, so people feel they can come to talk to us and ask about rally.”


Regardless of whatever success she goes on to achieve on the special stages, Hussi – somebody with a high profile in Finland already before embarking upon a rally career – is achieving success off them. And in a lot of ways that’s more important.

She describes growing interest in rallying as “kind of like our side project”.

“Of course the main target is to be good at what we do, be at the top three or whatever. But also we want to spread the positive message of rallying – to encourage people,” Hussi adds.

“I mean if I can do it starting from zero experience, then you can do it too. That’s what we want to tell also.”

As that call-in from Pajari last year also proved, there’s plenty of people listening to what Hussi has to say…