Timo Alanne is one of the few Finns that play in a whole different league in the field of rallying; the World Rally Championship. Hidden away from the bright spotlights, he is working in the Safety Crew and also has a big role as being the weatherman for Volkswagen Motorsports.
Alanne’s co-driver career started in 1988, when he was alongside Marcus Grönholm in the Junior Finnish Championship driving an Opel Ascona. Timo has also been the co-driver for many other well-known rally drivers like Toni Gardemeister, Kosti Katajamäki, Anton Alén, Patrik Floid and Eyvind Brynildsen.
Alanne himself says that his best accomplishment was Rally Turkey in 2006 with Kosti Katajamäki, when they placed fifth driving the Ford Focus WRC.
– In a way, one of the best experiences in my career was the 2009 Pikes Peak rally in North-America. I was Marcus Grönholm’s co-driver in an 850-HP Ford Fiesta and we finished second, Alanne says.
At the moment Alanne is working for VW Motorsports, in the Safety Crew of Andreas Mikkelsen, together with Norwegian Bernt Kollevold. Back in the day, he worked for Marcus Grönholm in the same position during Grönholm’s whole professional career and for the Norwegian Petter Solberg as well. – The reason why I’m working in this position, specifically in Mikkelsen’s team, is simply because I was asked to fill this position, Alanne says.
Nowadays, Safety Crews are only allowed in tarmac rallies. In these rallies, Safety Crew cars are allowed to drive through the special stages approximately two hours before the race, using the notes of the actual rally crew. The main focus is to report any changes in the circumstances after the initial notes were written and to also check the changes between special stages that are driven twice, thus helping the driver for example to choose the correct tires. Sometimes drivers even ask for the Safety Crew to go through some unclear parts of the notes. – To achieve a good comparison base, we are involved in tarmac tests and making the notes for the actual rallies, says Alanne.
– It’s hard to imagine someone doing this without having a competitive background in rallying. Every top driver has an ex-professional driver in this position; for Jari-Matti Latvala’s work, for example is done by Toni Gardemeister and Jakke Honkanen, Alanne continues.
Outside of tarmac rallies, Alanne is a so-called weatherman for the team VW, walking through the stages, reporting about changes in temperature, conditions, road-temperature et cetera. Due to the rules of the stages, you have to make the observations and measures without using a car. At the service park, the team also has a weatherman using a computer to forecast the weather and possible changes.
Alanne has not given much thought to his future in the rally world.
– I’m going to continue doing this. Traveling 100 days per year and having my own construction company makes the time fly by, Alanne jokes.
Alanne has not fully abandoned racing either.
– I promised Toni Gardemeister that I’ll accompany him at a couple invitational rallies in a Suzuki WRC car, Alanne says.