Early morning, with the beach breeze in the air, the Red Bull Global Rally Cross track crew was working hard to prep and prepare for today’s race. To help get tires and engines warmed up and ready, several racing teams set up media drives for a select few individuals to ride shotgun in the rally cross vehicles. Shortly afterwards, race fans lined up at the entrance ready to watch their favorite drivers battle it out of what has said to be one of the shortest GRC tracks to date, ready to kick off the season.
Joni Wiman, known to many as the “The Rookie”, and last year’s champion, returns again this season, to battle it out against the some of the world’s best, and most talented drivers. After Joni Wiman’s quick warm up session and practice, I was able to catch up and sit with Wiman one on one for a few moments before the big race. The Finland native defended, won, and led every single race in his previous class of GRC Supercar Lites over the last couple of years, and moved up to the Supercar series, to then win the championship of the GRC last year.
Wiman and I took a few moments behind his team’s Ford OMSE race trailer and spoke a bit about the race, his car, and his career.
1. SM: Explain what it takes to win the GRC Championship?
JW: “It takes consistency. Last season didn’t start of the best for me, but being consistent got me through to be the champion.”
2. SM: Tell me about your new car for this year, and how it compares to last year’s car?
JW: “The entire car is practically new. The engine is all new, as well as the suspension. The build for this year’s new car started last season. I feel that last year’s car weakest point was the power, so this season’s update was definitely needed. The new car instantly feels faster.”
3. SM: How much different is racing in Europe or Scandinavia, compared to the United States?
JW: “Well the regulations stay the same, or are similar in many ways. I think the biggest difference is that the United States is more about the “show”, and making everything look good. In Europe, it’s more about the racing. My fan base is also stronger back home in Scandinavia and Europe, but is growing stateside.”
4. SM: Who is your biggest inspiration?
JW: “One of my biggest inspirations is probably the team boss. He is really passionate. We want to do well together. And of course, the fans remain a top inspiration.”
5. SM: Where do you see your career going next? Acting? Stunts?
JW: “For now, I plan to focus on just racing. I mean, that is why I am here today. I think it would be fun somewhere in the future to explore stunt driving, but truly want to put all I have into racing for now.”
Joni was certainly interesting to speak with, and it was truly an honor to get some one on one time with the Red Bull GRC’s latest champion. Going from the “Rookie” to the “Champion” is certainly quite a feat, especially at just 21 years old. During our discussion, we spoke a bit more about his racecar, and I found out the fact that Joni has never had the chance to drive the street production Ford Fiesta ST! I was able to wish Joni the best of luck today, and for the rest of the season.
For more information on the Red Bull Global Rally Cross, please visit www.redbullglobalrallycross.com. For more information on Joni Wiman, please visit www.joniwiman.com