Winner of Flying Finn talent search revealed

Leevi Lassila named as the latest graduate of the Flying Finn Future Rally Star program

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If Roald Dahl had written about rallying instead of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, he’d have talked about Leevi Lassila instead of Charlie Bucket.

The 20-year-old from Kauhava unwrapped the golden ticket and landed one of the biggest prizes in rallying when he was named as this year’s Flying Finn Future Rally Star. Lassila beat four other leading lights from the Finnish Rally Championship to write his name in history alongside the likes of former winners Teemu Suninen and Sami Pajari.

For this year’s Secto Rally Finland, he will leave his Ford Fiesta Rally4 at home and step aboard a fully funded, tired and fueled Fiesta Rally3.

“This is a huge chance for me to go a step further in my rally career,” said the tall Finn. “I am very grateful to AKK Sports and to everybody for organising today and the Flying Finn Future Rally Star program.”


Having impressed the jury with his ability to plot and plan his career progression, he turned his attentions to getting ready for Jyväsklylä in August.

He added: “Now I have to turn the attention to Secto Rally Finland and my preparations. I will rent a Rally3 car to do one rally in Tampere to take some practice and then I will make the test before the rally. It’s important to get as much experience as possible, I didn’t use four-wheel drive before.

“Like many drivers, my aim is to become world champion one day. Winning today (Tuesday) is a step in that direction, but I understand my big goal is still a long way away. I will go step-by-step. I’m only 20, so I have a lot of time. But to follow on from the names like Suninen and Pajari feels good – they are on the top and now I have the chance to follow!”

The five drivers (Lassi was joined by Toni Herranen, Jesse Kallio, Niko Kalmi and Ossi Pohjanharju) were put their paces by Finnish Olympic star Tommi Pärmäkoski before facing an interview panel led by the chief operating officer of AKK Sports (Finnish motorsport’s governing body) Markus Häkkinen.


“This year has really been the re-birth of Flying Finn Future Rally Star after the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Häkkinen. “And the focus again is to give one driver the opportunity to test themself in world-level rallying on our own, home turf and on roads they know. Driving on home roads helps to take away some of the pressure but competing in the WRC also brings some pressure.

“So far with this project, we have a good track record – we’re hoping that continues with Leevi. After the pandemic, we’re looking forward to this program taking flight again.”

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Pärmäkoski knows what it is to demonstrate single-minded sporting desire. He’s seen that in Lassila.

“There were a lot of strong candidates in this process,” said Pärmäkoski, “but Lassila demonstrated really what was needed. He’s had a good season so far, but as well as this we could see his physical condition was very strong and from the psychological perspective as well.

He has his feet on the ground, it was nice to see how humble he was – but at the same time I could definitely see the sparkle as well as the fire in his eyes when he talks to the future.

“For me, this guy is the full package.”