The legend from Finland – meet Jyrki Jonkkari!
Jyrki Jonkkari, the man, the myth, the legend from small village of Vihteljarvi in Finland. Debuted in Baltic Touring Car Championship in 2017, and since then with his yellow BMWs has been an essential part of the paddock and racing, three times(2019, 2020, 2022) becoming the champion and multiple times medallist. Here is a short interview with Jyrki who has a lot of interesting events and moments during his experience with us.
How did a road in motorsports started for Jyrki?
I started driving even before I started school, driving first with old cars on a frozen lake (winter ice racing). So I have been involved with driving and racing at a very early age.
What cars have you raced previously?
In 1983 I raced in motocross competitions, but early 1990s I have been racing in winter ice racing on a frozen lake where I drove Volvo 240 and rallycross, “jokkis”(autocross) and rokkiralli with Volvo 142. Those were the times were you could not take a photo with a phone! And now it’s GT time for many years.
You are 3x times BaTCC champion. The 4th title was really close, and a lot was decided in the last round, last lap, last corner in Lap 1. Can you walk us through that torrential rain event in Riga?
Thanks for the reminder, still hurts! Jokes aside, Mr. Holland was within striking distance before the last leg in Riga. We looked at the weather forecasts and it showed possible for showers so knew it suited better for Mr Holland. It cannot get any closer as you said. Last lap-> last corner -> last straight. Again, congrats for Mr. Holland, he is great driving colleague, always with a laughter and smile on his face! Happy to raise a toast for him during the February Gala
BMW E36, now BMW E92. Why BMW?
No particular response, other than I consider the BMW M3 cars quite well designed and manufactured to racing. Regarding the newer BMW M3 E92, I wanted to try something new after E36, so I just went for it!
One of the most iconic moment what we remember is, the 2018 Riga race, when you lost a door during the race. Can you describe that episode and what thoughts were with you in that moment?
Yeah, that was quite funny and a moment to remember! It was an overtaking situation, when the car next to me hit me in the door and somehow managed to lift the door out of it’s hinges! Then I was flagged off from racing by the officials as they wanted to know if I could continue without the door and obviously, I responded: “Yeah, I’m good to continue!”, so off I went! Epic moment for sure!
A dream or aim in racing?
My aim is to end the career as a champion and winning the last race! But planning on continuing for years to come and having fun!
I race because?
I’m an entrepreneur and running an excavator business. So, the racing is my way of balancing work and business – providing mental health! Also, my youngest sister is married to the Finnish GT champion Toni Vilander so I want to show to Toni that it’s not that difficult to turn the steering wheel for a racing car…to have some good discussions over the family gatherings!
Special thanks to my mechanics Onni and Marko, and the previous mechanic Pasi. Thanks for all the managerial work to my wife’s brother Jari. Also, thanks to my sponsors and my family for supporting me and allowing me to relax from my work on the races. I hope that health will favour me so that I can continue for many more years!
Jyrki, see you soon!