17 Best Motorcycle Racers in Finland : A Historical Perspective

James Hillier

Finland has produced some of the world’s most talented and accomplished motorcycle racers. From the legendary Jarno Saarinen to the current MotoGP star Mika Kallio, the country has a long and proud history of producing some of the best motorcycle racers in the world.

The Finns have won numerous world championships and have been consistently successful in various motorsport competitions. This article will take a look at some of the best motorcycle racers Finland has produced and the achievements they have made.

1. Jarno Saarinen


Jarno Karl Keimo Saarinen was a legendary Finnish professional Grand Prix motorcycle road racer. He was one of the most renowned riders of the early 1970s and was widely considered to be one of the most talented riders of his era.

He won numerous races and earned many accolades, such as being named the 1972 World Champion. Unfortunately, his promising career was cut short when he was tragically killed during the 1973 Nations Grand Prix in Italy.

His death left the world of motorcycle racing in shock, as the great potential that was taken away was felt by many. Saarinen was a beloved figure in the sport, and his death was a great loss to the motorcycle racing community.

Even today, Saarinen is remembered for his incredible skill and the mark he left on the sport.

2. Juha Salminen

Juha Salminen is an accomplished Finnish motorcycle enduro racer. He has achieved an impressive feat of becoming a 13-time World Enduro Champion and has also won the German and Spanish championships.

His accomplishments in the sport of enduro racing have been nothing short of remarkable. Enduro racing is an off-road motorcycling sport that involves navigating rough terrain and obstacles. It requires speed, skill, and endurance.

Juha Salminen has certainly shown that he has all of these qualities.

He has dominated the sport for many years, earning 13 World Enduro titles, as well as winning the German and Spanish championships. Salminen’s success has been attributed to his hard work and dedication to the sport.

He has developed a strong competitive drive that has allowed him to rise to the top of the enduro racing world.

He has also been noted for his commitment to safety and for his passion for the sport. Juha Salminen’s impressive accomplishments have earned him praise from the racing community and fans alike.

He is a true inspiration to aspiring enduro racers everywhere, and his legacy will live on in the sport of enduro racing for years to come.

3. Teuvo Länsivuori


Teuvo Pentti “Tepi” Länsivuori is a Finnish former professional motorcycle road racer who had a career that spanned nearly a decade.

From 1969 to 1978, he competed in the Grand Prix World Championships an international motorcycle racing series that features races for riders from all over the world. Länsivuori was one of the best riders in the championships, consistently finishing in the top ten in the overall standings.

He was particularly successful in the 500cc class, where he earned four podium finishes during his career.

He was also a respected member of the racing community, regularly offering tips and advice to his fellow competitors. Although his career was relatively short, Länsivuori made a lasting impact on the world of motorcycle racing.

He is still remembered fondly by fans of the sport, and his legacy lives on in the racers who have followed in his footsteps. His dedication and skill have earned him a place in the history books, and he will always be remembered as one of the greatest riders of his generation.

4. Taru Rinne


Taru Rinne is a Finnish former professional motorcycle racer. She is a renowned figure in the sport of motorcycle racing, and she has made history by becoming the first woman to achieve points in Grand Prix motorcycle racing.

Rinne achieved this remarkable feat in the 2000 Grand Prix of Finland, where she earned six points in the 125cc class. Rinne began her racing career at the young age of 15 when she entered the Finnish Championship Series and won the title in her first year.

She went on to compete in the European Championship Series in 1997, where she made her first international podium appearance.

In 1998, Rinne began to compete in the 125cc class of the Grand Prix motorcycle racing series, becoming the first woman to enter the series. Rinne’s determination and ambition led her to success, and she earned her first Grand Prix points in the 2000 Grand Prix of Finland.

Her achievement was a remarkable one, as she was the first woman to score points in the series.

This accomplishment was praised not only in the motorcycle racing world but also in the wider community, as it demonstrated the true potential of female athletes. Since her retirement in 2003, Rinne has been honored for her tremendous accomplishments in the sport.

She has been inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame, and she has also been honored with the Order of the White Rose of Finland, the highest honor bestowed upon a Finnish citizen. Taru Rinne’s legacy in the world of motorcycle racing will be remembered for many years to come.

She has set an example for other female athletes, showing them that anything is possible when you put your mind to it. She has left a lasting impression on the sport and will always be remembered for her incredible accomplishments.

5. Niki Tuuli


Niki Rikhard Tuuli is a professional motorcycle racer from Finland. He is one of the most successful riders in the sport, having won numerous championships and titles in both the Grand Prix and Superbike World Championships.

He began his career in the early 2000s, and has since made a name for himself as one of the best riders in the world.

His riding style is characterized by quick acceleration and smooth cornering, allowing him to be consistently competitive in both long-distance races and sprints. He is also a master of wet-weather riding, often able to make the most of a difficult situation and come out on top.

Tuuli has also been successful in the off-road competitions, winning multiple championships across the globe. He is a living legend in the racing world, and his success has helped to inspire a new generation of riders.

6. Niklas Ajo

Niklas ‘Niki’ Ajo is a well-known Finnish former Grand Prix motorcycle racer. During his career, he won many awards and championships, including the 2009 championship of the Finnish 125GP Championship.

This championship is a prestigious title among motorcycle racers, and Ajo was successful in achieving it. In addition to the Finnish 125GP Championship, Ajo has also competed in other championships.

He has participated in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup and the Spanish 125GP Championship, the latter of which he also won.

His success in these championships shows that he is not only an experienced racer but also a talented one. Ajo’s career in the racing world has been spectacular. He has achieved more than most other racers, and this has made him highly respected in the racing community.

He is known for being a hard worker and a skilled rider, which has allowed him to achieve success in his chosen field. Overall, Niklas ‘Niki’ Ajo is an inspiring figure in the racing world. He has achieved great success in his chosen field, and has won several championships.

His hard work and dedication to his craft have been an inspiration to many. He is a great example of how far one can go with passion and determination.

7. Mika Kallio


Mika Kallio is a professional Grand Prix motorcycle racer from Finland. He currently competes in the MotoGP racing series and is also the lead test and development rider for the Red Bull KTM team.

Kallio has been a part of the MotoGP racing scene since 2008 when he joined the Pramac Racing team. Since then, he has raced for Ducati and KTM and has had some impressive results in the championship.

As the lead test and development rider for the Red Bull KTM team, Kallio’s role is to develop the team’s race bikes and ensure that they are as competitive as possible. He also tests out new parts and setups to help the team improve their performance.

Kallio has showcased his skills as a rider and has earned the respect of many of his peers. He is a key part of the Red Bull KTM team and continues to work hard to help the team improve and be successful.

8. Kirsi Kainulainen

Kirsi Kainulainen is an impressive motorcyclist from Finland. She is a professional racer and has achieved many features in her career. Growing up in the small town of Ylöjärvi, Finland, Kirsi was exposed to the world of racing at a young age.

She started competing in local races when she was 15 and quickly showed promise in the sport. Kirsi began competing in the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship in 2012 and has been a regular in the championship ever since.

She is a two-time world champion in the Women’s Motocross World Championship, having won the title in 2013 and 2017.

She has also achieved success in the Women’s European Championship, where she has been a regular competitor since 2012. Kirsi is also a major advocate for women in motorcycling.

She actively promotes the inclusion of women in the sport and is a founding member of the Women’s Motorcycle Association. She has also served as a mentor to young female riders, helping them to develop their skills and encouraging them to pursue a career in motorcycling.

Kirsi Kainulainen is a true champion in the motocross world and an inspiration for female riders everywhere. She has shown that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible.

9. Patrik Pulkkinen

Patrik Pulkkinen is a Finnish motorcycle racer who has competed in a variety of championships. In 2017, Pulkkinen raced in the Moto3 World Championship for Peugeot MC Saxoprint team.

His involvement in the championship marked a major milestone in his career, as he was able to compete against some of the world’s best racers. Prior to this, Pulkkinen was a competitor in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup in 2015 and 2016.

This was a great opportunity for him to hone his racing skills and gain experience in a competitive environment. He was able to use this experience to prepare himself for the 2017 Moto3 World Championship.

Pulkkinen is a dedicated racer who has worked hard to achieve success in his career.

10. Joonas Kylmäkorpi

Joonas Nikolai Kylmäkorpi is a former motorcycle speedway rider from Finland. He is known for his success in the Long Track World Championship, having won four titles in the discipline. He began racing speedway from a young age and quickly became a professional rider.

He competed in various international competitions, such as the Grand Prix and the Speedway Grand Prix. He was also the winner of the Swedish Long Track Championship three times. In addition to Speedway, he also competed in motocross and ice racing.

Kylmäkorpi has been a successful rider throughout his career, with multiple titles and awards to his name. His greatest achievement is his four titles in the Long Track World Championship.

He has also won the Finnish Long Track Championship seven times, and the European Long Track Championship twice. Kylmäkorpi is a respected figure in the speedway racing community and is one of the most successful riders in the sport’s history.

11. Kai Niemi

Kai Juhani Niemi is a renowned name in the world of speedway racing. He was a former international motorcycle speedway rider who had the honor of representing the Finland national speedway team.

Niemi has had a successful career in the sport, having won numerous championships and medals in his time. Niemi was born in Finland and began his career in the late 1980s.

He quickly made a name for himself within the speedway community, becoming the first-ever Finnish rider to compete in the European Speedway Championship in 1988. He went on to win the Finnish championship in 1992 and also won the Nordic Championship in 1994.

He was also part of the Finnish team that competed in the Speedway World Cup in 1995, 1996 and 1997. Niemi’s success was not limited to the track. He was also highly respected for his leadership skills and was made captain of the Finnish team in 1998.

During his time as captain, he led the team to an impressive second-place finish in the Speedway World Cup. Kai Juhani Niemi is a true legend in the world of speedway racing and will be remembered for his many achievements in the sport.

He is an inspiration to many young riders, and his legacy will live on through his many successes on the track.

12. Kai Laukkanen

Kai Pekka Laukkanen is a former professional motorcycle speedway rider from Finland. He was born in the city of Nokia in 1965 and began his career in the sport in 1983. He quickly rose to prominence in the sport, becoming one of the best riders in the world.

He competed in many international competitions, including the prestigious FIM Speedway Grand Prix and the Speedway World Cup.

He also won multiple Finnish titles in both individual and team events. Laukkanen was known for his strong performances in wet conditions, which earned him the nickname “the rainmaster”.

His most memorable moment came in 1990 when he won the Speedway World Cup with the Finnish national team.

He was also a part of the Finnish team that won the bronze medal at the 1992 European Speedway Championship. Throughout his career, Laukkanen earned many accolades, including being inducted into the Finnish Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2003.

He retired from the sport in 1997 and now works as a speedway coach. He is still remembered fondly by Finnish speedway fans.

13. Tero Aarnio

Tero Kalevi Aarnio is a professional speedway rider from Finland. He is an incredibly talented and daring racer who has found success in the sport. Aarnio began competing in speedway at a young age and quickly rose to the top of the sport.

He is a three-time Finnish Speedway Champion, as well as the 2020 European Speedway Champion. Aarnio is known for his aggressive and daring riding style, often taking risks and pushing the limits of speed.

He is also an accomplished road racer and has competed in the Isle of Man TT. Aarnio is part of a long tradition of motorcycle speedway riders from Finland, including the legendary Ilmari Salminen.

His passion for speed and commitment to excellence has made him a fan favorite in Finland. He is an inspiration to many and a living example of the potential of speedway racing.

14. Rene Lehtinen

Rene Lehtinen is a former professional motorcyclist, who specialized in speedway riding. He was at one point a member of the Finland speedway team and represented the country at the 2007 Speedway World Cup.

The Speedway World Cup is an annual event which began in 2001 and is hosted by the International Motorcycling Federation (FIM). It features teams from several countries competing in a series of races, with the fastest team being crowned the winners.

The Finnish team, which included Rene Lehtinen, had some success in the 2007 event but ultimately failed to take the title. Rene Lehtinen was an accomplished speedway rider, having competed in many races throughout his career.

He was a member of the Finnish team for several years and was part of the 2007 side that took part in the world cup.

He was a consistent performer on the track, and his skills and determination helped the team put in a good showing. Rene Lehtinen has since retired from professional motorcycling, but his contributions to the sport have not been forgotten.

His time as a member of the Finnish team at the 2007 Speedway World Cup will be remembered for many years to come.

15. Pentti Korhonen

Pentti Korhonen is a former professional motorcycle racer from Finland. He was born in the town of Rantasalmi in 1949. He was active in the sport of Grand Prix motorcycle racing from 1969 to 1979.

During this time, he achieved notable success in the sport, earning a number of podium finishes. He is considered to be one of the greats of Finnish motorcycle racing. Korhonen began his racing career as a teenager and quickly gained a reputation as a talented rider.

He competed in the Grand Prix World Championship, where he achieved a number of impressive results, including a win at the 1979 Dutch TT.

He also competed in various other motorcycle racing competitions, such as the Finnish Superbike championship and the Finnish Touring Car Championship. Korhonen retired from racing in 1979, but his legacy continues to live on.

He is remembered as a great racer who brought a lot of pride to Finland and to the sport of motorcycle racing. His achievements have been honored in various ways, including being inducted into the Finnish Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2008.

Pentti Korhonen will always be remembered as one of Finland’s greatest motorcycle racers.

16. Pekka Päivärinta

Pekka Päivärinta is a Finnish sidecar motorcycle racer who is a world champion. He achieved this title in 2008 with his passenger Timo Karttiala. Päivärinta was part of Team Suzuki Finland, riding a Suzuki GSXR1000-powered LCR.

This is a huge accomplishment for Pekka, as he is the first Finn to win a world sidecar title. This title proves Pekka and Timo’s dedication and commitment to sidecar racing and is a major milestone in Pekka’s racing career.

Pekka has set the bar for any other Finns looking to achieve the same level of success in sidecar racing.

17. Henri Toivonen

Henri Pauli Toivonen was a renowned Finnish rally driver. He was born in Jyväskylä, the home of Rally Finland, on June 25, 1956. Toivonen was the son of Pauli Toivonen, who was the 1968 European Rally Champion for Porsche.

His brother, Harri Toivonen, followed in his father’s footsteps and became a professional circuit racer. Toivonen began his career in the 1974 1000 Lakes Rally, where he finished in an impressive 11th place.

He quickly gained notoriety in the rallying world and went on to become one of the greatest drivers of his era. He won the Finnish Rally Championship in 1977 and 1978 and the European Rally Championship in 1980 and 1981.

Toivonen also achieved the distinction of being the first driver to win the European Rally Championship in a four-wheel drive car. Toivonen’s career was tragically cut short when he died in a fatal crash at the 1986 Tour de Corse rally in France.

Despite his untimely death, Toivonen’s legacy as one of the greatest rally drivers of all time lives on. He will forever be remembered as a pioneer of the sport and an inspiration to rally drivers around the world.


There is no doubt that Finland has produced some of the best motorcycle racers in the world.

From legendary riders like Jarno Saarinen and Heikki Mikkola to modern-day stars like Mika Kallio and Kari Tiainen, Finnish riders have been at the forefront of motorcycle racing for decades.

As the sport continues to grow in popularity in Finland, and around the world, we can expect to see more amazing riders from this small country in the future.

Photo of author

James Hillier

I'm a motorcycle racer at Rich Energy OMG Racing. I've always been interested in racing ever since I was a child. My love for racing started with my father who was also a motorcycle racer. He would take me to the track with him and that's when I knew that this is what I wanted to do. I'm not only interested in racing but also in motorcycles themselves. I have always dreamed of owning my own bike someday, so when Rich Energy OMG Racing gave me the opportunity to test their bike last year, it was an honor for me. LinkedIn