From radio host to rally co-driver: the story of Janni Hussi

Janni Hussi

Janni Hussi’s foray into motorsport was as casual as it was exciting. Discover the incredible story of this friendly Finnish woman who found a new passion after a live radio show.

Janni Hussi’s foray into motorsport is as casual as it is thrilling. Discover the incredible story of this friendly Finnish woman who found a new passion after a live radio show.

For Janni Hussi, the Vodafone Rally de Portugal had a particularly special “flavor.” Securing third place alongside Joona Lauri in a WRC2 Skoda Fabia RS Rally2 marked the highest point of her still short but rapidly blossoming career in motorsport. The amiable 32-year-old co-driver was once a well-known Finnish radio personality, a position she held before discovering her fervor for rallying.

“I was hosting a morning radio show in Finland. One day we were discussing rallies, and I jokingly said live on air that it couldn’t be that difficult, that anyone could do it,” Hussi recounted in Portugal. “The truth is, Sami Pajari, the young Finnish driver, was listening and decided to call the station. Live on air, he challenged me to try it. With thousands of listeners who heard me say that anyone could do it, I had no arguments to refuse the challenge!”

A new beginning

Accepting the challenge, Hussi initially thought she would don a racing suit and helmet just once for the experience. However, from her very first co-drive, she realized it was love at first sight. “The impact of that first experience as a rally co-driver was so overwhelming that I didn’t give it a second thought,” she said. “Six months after that first experience, I quit radio to pursue a career as a rally co-driver. I must have done something right because, after just 14 months, I was preparing for my first season in 2023!”

Learning the ropes

Transitioning from radio to rallying was no small feat. Hussi had to immerse herself in a world that was entirely new to her. “I had to learn everything from scratch,” she admitted. “The terminology, the navigation, the technical aspects of the car – it was all new. But I was determined. I spent hours studying rally footage, practicing with simulation tools, and learning from experienced drivers and co-drivers.”

Hussi’s background in radio surprisingly provided some unexpected advantages. “In radio, you need to be quick on your feet, think fast, and stay calm under pressure. These skills translated well into rallying, where quick decision-making and staying composed are crucial.”

The first races

Hussi’s first races were a mix of exhilaration and steep learning curves. “My first few rallies were intense. I made mistakes, of course, but each one was a learning opportunity,” she said. “The rally community was incredibly supportive. I received so much advice and encouragement, which helped me improve quickly.”

Despite being a novice, Hussi’s passion and dedication did not go unnoticed. “People saw how serious I was about this new career. I wasn’t just a radio host trying something new for fun. I was committed to becoming the best co-driver I could be.”

The breakthrough

Hussi’s breakthrough came sooner than anyone expected. “In just my second year, I started getting better results. My partnership with Joona Lauri was a game-changer. We had great chemistry, and our communication was spot-on. It felt like we had been working together for years.”

At the Vodafone Rally de Portugal, Hussi and Lauri achieved a remarkable third place in WRC2 and 10th place overall. “It was a hard-earned third place,” she recalled. “We faced tough competition, but we kept pushing. Every stage was a battle, but crossing the finish line and seeing our position was an incredible feeling.”

The support system

Behind Hussi’s success is a strong support system. “My family and friends have been amazing. They were surprised at first, of course. It’s not every day someone switches from radio to rallying. But they saw how passionate I was and supported me every step of the way.”

Hussi also credits her team for their unwavering support. “The team I work with is fantastic. From the mechanics to the strategists, everyone plays a crucial role. It’s a team effort, and I’m grateful to be part of such a dedicated group.”

Facing challenges

The transition to motorsport wasn’t without its challenges. “There were times when I doubted myself,” Hussi admitted. “Rallying is demanding physically and mentally. There are long hours, intense concentration, and the constant push to improve. But every time I got behind the wheel, I remembered why I loved it. The adrenaline, the teamwork, the sheer thrill of the sport – it all kept me going.”

One of the most significant challenges Hussi faced was gaining respect in a male-dominated field. “As a woman, I had to work twice as hard to prove myself. But I let my performance speak for itself. I focused on improving, learning, and showing that I deserved to be there.”

Future aspirations

Hussi’s meteoric rise in the sport shows no signs of slowing down. At the Vodafone Rally de Portugal, she and Lauri clinched a “hard-earned” third place in WRC2 and 10th place overall, after a fiercely contested battle for the podium. While Finland may have lost a beloved radio and television star, the world of WRC2 has undoubtedly gained a new star in Janni Hussi.

Looking to the future, Hussi has big plans. “I’m just getting started,” she said with a smile. “I want to keep improving, keep competing, and hopefully, one day, win a WRC2 championship. The journey has been incredible so far, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me next.”

Impact on women in motorsport

Hussi’s journey is also inspiring other women to consider careers in motorsport. “I’ve received messages from young women who say they’re inspired by my story,” she said. “It’s amazing to see more women getting interested in rallying. We need more diversity in the sport, and if my story can encourage even one person to give it a try, then I’m happy.”

Hussi is also involved in initiatives to promote women in motorsport. “I’m part of several programs that aim to support and mentor young women entering the sport. It’s important to create a supportive community where women feel welcomed and encouraged to pursue their passions.”

Conclusion

Janni Hussi’s transition from radio host to rally co-driver is a testament to the power of passion and determination. Her story is a reminder that it’s never too late to pursue a new dream and that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible. From a casual comment on a live radio show to standing on the podium at the Vodafone Rally de Portugal, Hussi has shown that she is a force to be reckoned with in the world of motorsport. Finland may have lost a radio star, but the rallying world has gained a new champion.