The 2022 rallying season will, undoubtedly, go down in the history books as one of the most influential there’s ever been.
The World Rally Championship embraced hybrid technology for the first time, Kalle Rovanperä redefined what it means to be successful at a young age by smashing the record books at 22 years old, and Finland bred the world champion in the WRC, WRC2 and WRC3.
But it’s for none of these reasons that 2022 will truly go down as a revolutionary year of rallying.
Instead, it’s all down to Reeta Hämäläinen, Enni Mälkönen, Sara Fernández, Isabelle Galmiche, Julia Thulin… the list goes on.
Never before have so many women achieved so much success at the very highest level of rallying.
What they’ve all achieved:
|Reeta Hämäläinen||WRC2 champion co-driver|
|Enni Mälkönen||WRC3 champion co-driver|
|Sara Fernández||ERC champion co-driver|
|Isabelle Galmiche||Monte Carlo Rally winning co-driver|
|Julia Thulin||Junior WRC event-winning co-driver|
And the success is not just reserved for this talented bunch of six.
Over in America, Rhianon Gelsomino has continued to crush it alongside Subaru Motorsports USA’s Travis Pastrana, and both Lucy (co-driven by DirtFish’s very own Michelle Miller) and Lia Block have produced personal best results in their Rally3 and R2T Fiestas.
Then there’s Giorgia Ascalone, who became an ERC event winner with Damiano De Tomasso on this year’s Rally di Roma.
The point is, never has female success been so visible in the world of rallying as it has this year.
“It feels, for me, that it’s quite revolutionary that there are so many women and we are winning,” Hämäläinen tells DirtFish.
“I’m really proud how the women have done this year, also like how I am really proud how the Finns have done this year with the World Rally championships.
“But somehow I think, even if we can have one girl more come into the sport because of us, it’s a win.”
Representation is everything. The effect this year could have is far more galvanizing than you might think, as this heart-warming story from Hämäläinen illustrates.
“To be honest, it meant a lot to me when, in Finland, this one family came and they said to me that now their girl realized that she can also do this,” she shares.
“She had been talking a lot about rallying and wanting to be in a rally but thought ‘oh no, I cannot, I cannot’. But then she had realized that ‘oh I can do it also’.
“It was a big moment for me to inspire somebody into this. Because everybody can do this, it’s just a matter of will.
“It’s a lot of hard work but anyone can do this, it’s just whoever wants it enough.”
Reading this brings a smile to DirtFish head of strategy Josie Rimmer’s face. This year, she has been central in launching DirtFish’s Women in Motorsport initiative that included DirtFish Women’s Month back in March.
“The goal of our DirtFish Women in Motorsport initiative is to show exactly this; it’s happening,” Josie said.
“Women are working in every role within the sport, and they’re making it bigger and better and more successful. They’re making events run smoother, they’re inspiring young girls, they’re topping podiums.
“They’re tough and resilient and committed. They’re game changers. And the women of this season are an indisputable example of that.
“They’ve never shied away from a challenge… Why start now?”