Estonia's Karl Kruuda has made history by becoming the first non-Finn to win the Finnish Rally Championship in 59 years, thanks to a podium place on the Pirelli Rally in Tampere, driving a Ford Fiesta S2000.
Karl concentrated on just bringing his car to the finish and succeeded in his goal of turning the formbook on its head and winning one of the most specialised and fiercely contested rally championships in the world.
Finland is the spiritual home of rallying, having produced more world champions than any other country. Karl joins a long list of illustrious former Finnish championship winners, some of whom went on to become real legends in the sport, such as Hannu Mikkola and Marcus Gronholm.
Aged just 21, this championship victory is Kruuda's biggest achievement yet in rallying, having delivered on a stellar season to date to win the title by eight points.
"We made history here, and it feels great," said Kruuda, who was co-driven as always by Martin Järveoja. "I have to say that I love these roads especially because you have to drive as fast as you can in all conditions. I will probably do a few rallies in Finland also next year. But for now, I want to enjoy the moment. I'd like to thank all my supporters and partners for having made this achievement possible, especially my PrintSport team. Their backing has meant so much to me this year and I am very grateful to all of them. And of course, our season is a long way from being over yet..."
Karl is also contesting the WRC2 championship in 2014: the feeder series to the main World Rally Championship. With two scoring opportunities left to go for the Estonian, in Spain and Great Britain at the end of the year, he is still firmly in contention to add another title to his collection.
The Finnish Rally Championship season, held on snow and gravel events, has been a thrilling adventure from start to finish for Karl and Martin. The highlights have included one of the closest-ever finishes in the history of the championship, when they won the Turku Rally last month after finishing equal on time with one of their closest rivals, the final results being decided by the times on the first stage.
One man who knows plenty about what it means to win in Finland is Karl's manager Kim Vatanen, the son of 1981 world champion Ari Vatanen. "I've grown up in the Finnish rallying culture throughout my life, and Karl's achievement really can't be underestimated," said Kim, a partner in V&V Sports Management. "He's worked so hard and kept improving throughout the year. Karl thoroughly deserves this title, and as he doesn't even turn 22 until the final day of this year, I'm convinced we're still to see the best to come from him in the future."