The moustache is gone. It’s not welcome anymore. Nor was the alarm clock which went off at rally time on Saturday.
When Jonne Halttunen and Kalle Rovanperä rolled their Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 on the second run through Myhinpää on Friday, the ramifications were far more wide-ranging than a weekend off and a painful shave.
The Finns started their home round of the World Rally Championship with a 55-point lead and designs on becoming the first locals to win since Esapekka Lappi in 2017.
Halttunen also started with a moustache. And the top lip would remain covered as long as they kept on winning.
A comparatively baby-faced Jonne met DirtFish at lunchtime on Saturday.
“First thing this morning,” he said, “when I saw my face in the mirror… moustache have to be gone. I didn’t have any shaving cream or anything, so it was not a nice experience to do it – but it was a promise to myself and I did it as soon as possible.”
News of their retirement wasn’t confirmed until midnight on Friday, when the decision was taken that the cage was too damaged for the Yaris to return to the stages. Too late for a beer, Jonne at least consoled himself with a lie-in rather than an alarm starting with a five.
“When the team told me the car was not fixable, I just took off the alarms from my phone – but I forgot my rally watches, so I woke this morning to ‘beep, beep, beep…’ What is beeping? It was my watch telling me I have to go to the time control!
You cannot win every match in football, you cannot win all the rallies in rally so... sometimes it’s like thisJonne Halttunen
“I put on the All Live and started watching the rally, but that was weird. Like proper weird. I thought today’s stages would have been the ones we would like to do, and testing what we did in Tampere a week ago was mainly for today, so I think we would have done quite nicely – they were stages we wanted to do.
“It felt stupid and odd, but you cannot win every match in football, you cannot win all the rallies in rally so… sometimes it’s like this. We try to win the events, we try to be fast all the times. Sometimes you have moments, most of the time you get away with but sometimes you don’t and maybe this was just our moment what we didn’t just get through.
“If we had come to the corner again, we would have done the same thing – it wasn’t like a big mistake. I think some mud caught the rear of the car. With good luck when we catch the slide again we could have continued, but there was a stone or something, so that just caught the car and we went on the rollercoaster. That’s it.
“It’s a pity that it happened in Finland, but in the end the championship’s still looking fine and I guess we have to just forget this and continue to Greece.”
The upside is that the journey home wasn’t a long one.
“Seven minutes,” he said. “That’s how long from the hotel to my home. Kalle has done the same, he left the hotel a few moments ago. I will stay here for the weekend. I want to support the team and anyway, it’s a nice atmosphere and nice people.
“And for the moustache, now I have to find another style!”
There is, of course, nothing new about moustaches being lost at the end of rallies – but usually it’s a tradition which accompanies a win.
When Richard Burns won his first WRC round, the 1998 Safari Rally, for example, three members of the Ralliart Mitsubishi team lost their facial hair.
Derek Dauncey remembers the moment well: “We were working really late one night. We’d had a seal fail on the transmission and we had to take the transmission out, replace the seal and refit it. I had to sign the car off, which I did around two in the morning.
“It was around that time, I said: ‘If we win this rally, I’ll shave my moustache off.’ RB went and won it and then went to the finish with a razor on the dashboard! I cut my own moustache off in my room, but Phil [Short, team manager] and one of the mechanics Roger Mortimer got theirs done in the swimming pool!”