- July 25, 1981
- Fia World Rally Championship
Juho Hänninen is a Finnish rally driver who has three international championship titles on his account and recorded 56 starts in the World Rally Championship between 2006 and 2019, scoring one podium.
Hänninen was the Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion in 2010, then S-WRC champion in 2011 and European rally champion in 2012. He won all those titles driving a Škoda Fabia S2000.
In the WRC, he spent a season with Hyundai Motorsport in 2014 and a season with Toyota Gazoo Racing in 2017, scoring a podium at 2017 Rally Finland.
Winning one title in the national rally championship
Born in July 1981 in Punkaharju, Juho Hänninen started his rally career in 2001, driving a Seat Ibiza GTi 16V. His first navigator was Marko Sallinen. Hänninen stayed in Seat in 2002 but replaced it with Honda Civic Type R late in the season. The first success in a Honda came in 2004 when Hänninen was the Finnish class N2 champion.
In 2005, Hänninen moved to bigger Group N car, a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI, finishing second in Group N standings. In 2006, he raced in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX and finished again second in Group N.
Five starts in the 2006 World Rally Championship season
Hänninen made a WRC debut in 2006, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX at Rally Sweden, finishing 15th overall and first in the Group N. He was again the fastest Group N driver in his next WRC attempt, at Rally d'Italia Sardegna. In his third WRC outing with Lancer Evo IX, at Rally New Zealand, he was ninth overall and second in Group N.
In his home event, the Rally Finland, Hänninen raced in a Mitsubishi Lancer WRC but he was excluded for not wearing the correct fireproof underwear. In his fifth WRC start that year, at Rally GB, Hänninen was driving a Citroën C2 S1600, finishing 19th overall and the best in A6 class.
Two Production WRC seasons with Mitsubishi
In 2007, Hänninen competed full season with Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX the Production World Rally Championship (PWRC) but also raced in three WRC events with Lancer WRC. His new navigator was Mikko Markkula.
At the start of the season, he provisionally won the Swedish Rally but was later disqualified for non-homologated fuel pumps. Later in the PWRC season, he was second at Rally GB and third at Rally Argentina, finishing fifth in the points. Outside PWRC, he scored his first WRC points by finishing 8th at Rally d'Italia Sardegna.
In 2008, Hänninen spent one more season in the PWRC, driving a Lancer Evo IX for Ralliart New Zealand team. He scored three PWRC wins in Sweden, Finland and Japan, finishing second in the points behind Andreas Aigner. In 2008, Hänninen also made two starts in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC), taking the overall win at Rally Russia in a Peugeot 207 S2000.
Joining Škoda Motorsport in 2009, winning IRC title in 2010
In 2009, Hänninen joined Škoda Motorsport to drive a Škoda Fabia S2000 in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge. He repeated a victory at Rally Russia and finished sixth in the IRC standings. He also participated in the Finnish WRC round, finishing 10th overall and first among Group N drivers.
In 2010, Hänninen was a dominant driver in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, winning three times (Argentina, Sardinia, Scotland) and adding seven more podiums to take the championship title in front of his teammate Jan Kopecky. Outside IRC, he was the best Group N/SWRC driver at Rally Finland.
Double programme with Škoda, SWRC champion in 2011
In 2011, Hänninen had a double programme with Škoda in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge and SWRC category of the World Rally Championship. In seven IRC events, he won three times (Canary, Yalta, Azores) to finish third in the points.
In the 2011 World Rally Championship, Hänninen scored three victories in the SWRC category (Greece, Finland, Spain), plus two more podiums, taking the championship title in front of Ott Tanak.
Four wins for European Rally Championship title in 2012
In 2012, Hänninen again had a double programme with Škoda, in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge and European Rally Championship. With four wins in seven rallies, he won the European Rally Championship title. He won Croatia Rally, Ypres Rally, Bosphorus Rally and Barum Czech Rally Zlin.
Ypres Rally and Rally Zlin also counted for the IRC points. His third IRC win was at Circuit of Ireland and he finished third in the final IRC classification.
First WRC stage win at 2013 Rallye Monte-Carlo
In 2012, Hänninen completely skipped WRC and then returned to world's major rally competition in 2013, recording three starts in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, with Tomi Tuominen as his navigator.
In the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo, Juho scored his first ever stage win at WRC event, winning the ninth stage in the #6 Ford Fiesta of Qatar World Rally Team. Unfortunately, he didn't finish the rally because of an accident.
In the next event, the Rally Sweden, he finished sixth in Qatar WRT's Ford Fiesta RS WRC. His third WRC start in 2013 was at Rally Finland, where he finished 32nd.
2014 WRC season with Hyundai Motorsport
In July 2013, Hyundai Motorsport hired Hänninen as a test driver. He participated in a development of Hyundai i20 WRC. When Hyundai entered the full season in the 2014 World Rally Championship, Hänninen participated in six events in the #8 car, sharing it with Dani Sordo and Chris Atkinson.
In those six events, Hänninen scored points three times. He was sixth in Poland and Finland, and eighth in Portugal, finishing 13th in the championship standings.
Two seasons out of WRC, return with Toyota in 2017
Hänninen lost a seat in Hyundai's team in 2015 and he was out of WRC in the next two seasons, recording only one start with his own Ford Fiesta RS WRC at 2015 Rally Finland, finishing in the sixth place.
During 2016, he participated in a development of Toyota Yaris WRC car, making a return to WRC with Toyota Gazoo Racing in 2017. He was a part of the all-Finnish line-up, together with Jari-Matti Latvala and Esapekka Lappi. Latvala and Lappi both scored one victory each, Hänninen's best result was third place at Rally Finland. His navigator was Kaj Lindstrom.
Out of the world's competition from 2018
At the end of the season, Kaj Lindstrom became the sporting director of the Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team. Hänninen skipped the last round and later was replaced by Ott Tanak for the 2018 WRC season. Hänninen later participated in some tests with Toyota but he was without a drive in 2018.
In 2019, he recorded one-off return at Rally Italia Sardegna, driving a Toyota Yaris WRC for Tommi Makinen Racing.
Photos: Toyota Gazoo Racing, Hyundai Motorsport, Petr Lusk, Luboš Kubele, Petr Sagner/ewrc-results.com,