Finnish rally driver Ari Vatanen (born 1952
) is one of the most likable motorsport legends around. During his early years, Vatanen was known for his extreme speeds, often leading to spectacular crashes. Age and experience taught him to keep the speed on the road and success was inevitable.
His international career in rallying started in 1976 with the British Rally Championship and went on to bring him the world title in 1981 with a Ford.
Vatanen almost ended his career and life with a serious accident in the 1985 Argentina rally. After a long period of both physical and mental recovery, Vatanen returned to racing and specialized in rally raids, such as the classic Paris - Dakar. Vatanen's success on long difficult races was again inevitable. Since then, Vatanen returned to the WRC scene for a while and has driven individual rallies and other races up to these days.
Vatanen has also won friends with his genuinely fine character and friendly personality. Despite traditionally raising a glass of milk on the finishing podium, Ari went on to grow wine in Southern France.
Today, Ari Vatanen is a member of the European Parliament representing Finland. He has shown a special interest in issues related to traffic and transport, especially the outrageous vehicle taxes of Finland.