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Toni Herranen

Date of birth: 18.11.2003

Home town: Ylivieska, Oulu

Sports: World Rally Championship (WRC) / WRC3, Finnish Rally Championship (SM-sarja) / SM2 class



Finnish Championship silver 2020

Finnish Championship bronze 2022

2x 2nd place in European Championship races


Toni on social media

“It’s probably the adrenaline that you get from it”


“Rally has been of interest to me since I was little, as my father has been involved in it—not as a driver, but in various other roles around the sport. When Finns have done well in it, I’ve followed it closely.

“Toni doesn’t have one favorite, but he has admired both former and current rally professionals. Mostly Finnish drivers like Latvala, Rovanperä, and others have provided inspiration.

“Toni’s life hasn’t revolved solely around motorsports. Another strong passion was ice hockey, which Toni played for ten years. Alongside that came karting, as you can only start rallying in the year you turn fifteen.

“It was a kind of substitute sport that I drove for six to seven years, and when I was old enough, we switched to rallying.

“Toni admits to being an adrenaline junkie.

“It’s probably the adrenaline that you get from it. Things can go well, and you’re on a high, but two minutes later, the feeling might be completely down. It fluctuates a lot. Somehow, it’s just such a fantastic thing.

“In a rally car, there’s a navigator sitting next to the driver, and their role is actually much more diverse than many laypeople might perceive.

“When we talk about a race weekend, I handle the driving, and the navigator practically takes care of everything else. If you watch rally on TV, it looks like the navigator is reading notes while the driver is driving. In reality, the navigator works for a couple of weeks before the race; they create schedules, handle registrations, and all the paperwork. Then we make the notes, and the navigator spends evenings correcting those notes. It’s really an incredible amount of work that isn’t visible outwardly. It’s a truly responsible job.

“If a certain situation arises, the navigator knows how to calm things down. They can say, ‘Now you’re completely calm, and let’s focus on what we’re doing.’ You have to be the right kind of person and a very precise companion. The schedules are down to the minute. You have to be dedicated to the job and focused all the time. It requires a certain type of person.”



“Rally is an experiential sport”


As a young talent, Toni has already secured a couple of Finnish Championship medals and a couple of second places in European rallies. Speed has propelled his career upwards, and in 2023, Herranen is making the move to the World Rally Championship and the WRC3 class. Despite the shift to the WRC, he still finds SM series competitions on his calendar, such as the season-opening Arctic Rally in Rovaniemi in January.

“The feeling is really great. It’s a big step forward in my career that the main focus is shifting to the WRC. It’s a long-term goal.”

The most significant change involves the routes he will be driving. The WRC events are new to Herranen. His competitors have navigated the same special stages. Lack of experience will be one of Herranen’s challenges.

“They are essentially new to me—except for the Jyväskylä race—so it’s not easy to dive in directly. Rallying is, however, a kind of experiential sport. Year after year, the same and similar stages are driven, so it helps if you’ve been there. Of course, a seasoned co-driver, Mikko Luka, will be with me, and he has been to all the rallies many times. That makes my job a bit easier.”

Herranen’s goal for the season is particularly to gather experiences and learn as much as possible. He aims to pursue good placements, especially in rallies in Sweden, Estonia, and Finland.

“In those, the goal is to drive for top positions, and I believe the speed will be sufficient for that,” Herranen says.

When asked about his competitive spirit, Toni doesn’t hesitate for a fraction of a second.

“I am, in everything,” Toni laughs, adding that he can’t even take backyard games lightly.



Calmness, consistency, and a strong passion


According to Toni’s assessment, his strengths include calmness and consistency.

“It’s said that I don’t easily get flustered. I can drive through a long rally with a steady performance, so there are no flops on some stages or worse things happening, and the focus stays throughout the entire race,” Toni explains.

In preparation for competitions, video recordings help, allowing him to memorize the stages. Before each race, Toni and his navigator have one training day and do pace note training.

Competitions are demanding, not just physically, but primarily mentally.

“Now, when we go to Rovaniemi, the longest stage there is probably 50 kilometers. You have to be in good physical condition to maintain focus throughout the entire stage. Of course, in hot races, it’s even more challenging. Endurance fitness has to be at a good level,” Toni explains.

According to Toni, rally drivers also need the ability to handle pressure. In a tight situation, one must be able to remain calm and squeeze the best performance out.

Driving is ultimately a small part of rallying in terms of time. Days are filled with physical training, pace note training, and partner tasks, among other things that need attention. According to Toni, this requires a certain attitude.

“A strong passion for the job is needed,” Toni sums up.



Life around rallying


In addition to rallying, Toni is passionate about various other sports. He mentions snowmobiling, skiing, the gym, and jogging as activities where he can think about something else.

Endurance athletes often talk about embracing the feeling of discomfort. Toni recognizes this in himself as well and adds that training is not always pleasant, but he endures it because endurance fitness is so crucial in rallying.

“When the passion for the sport is so strong, at least I have no problem going for a run or doing tough workouts. If I know that the exercise is beneficial, that motivates me enough.”

Toni’s life currently revolves around sports and motorsports. He has been fascinated by technology and cars since childhood. His education in that field is complemented by his “day job” related to rallying at Toyota Gazoo Racing Team.

“The Arctic Rally in Rovaniemi is one of the world’s greatest rallies. It has a unique feeling when driving very long stages in the dark wilderness of Lapland, in minus 35-degree weather.”

For Toni to participate in the Arctic Rally, collaboration with partners, such as Rentaa, is essential.

“It’s vital. Of course, financially, but also in terms of visibility,” Toni summarizes.

When asked about the most reliable people in his career, Toni doesn’t hesitate much.

“There’s nothing else to say but my own parents. They have been important in every aspect of my career, and I can always trust them.”