In the beginning of January the Finnish Motorsports Association awarded last year’s top performers in a gala, where Artiola Sidecar Racing was handed Suomi Cup gold medals. Markku Artiola was also awarded the para-athlete of the year 2018 in Kymenlaakso Sportsgala last Friday. This year Artiola was the only motorsports athlete to be rewarded. Festivities continued yet still with the City of Kouvola awarding its most successful athletes.
How do you feel about this kind of a recognition? Is this the first time you have been rewarded as a para-athlete?
– Of course it’s kind of a big deal. In all respects. The City of Kouvola has once rewarded me with a similar award. I can’t remember the exact year, but I used to ride with Joonas Salu back then, Artiola reminisces.
Last year sidecar racing was dropped from the National Championship-league to Finnish Cup and on top of that sidecars where not featured in this year’s Imatranajot either. However, the upcoming year is looking somewhat brighter. So far it seems that several new teams are joining the Finnish league and Imatranajot will once again feature sidecars.
Do you know if sidecar racing will return to the national league in the upcoming season?
– I don’t have any information about that. Last year it was considered that sidecars would have been promoted back to the national league during the season, as there were so many participants, but I don’t know what the opinion is this year. After all, there are sports in Finland where there are only few participants, but these sports are still competed on the national level. For me it really doesn’t make a difference. It’s still the same people competing against each other.
Will you be taking part in Imatra?
– Yes we will. And so will the likes of Tim Reeves, Mike Rocher and other tough names. If we can also get a couple of drivers from Sweden and Estonia to take part we’ll have 20 sidecars in the starting line, Artiola says.
The upcoming racing season will be interesting because in addition to new racing teams, Rockmotorsport has acquired a new road racing sidecar. This will add excitement as the pair Timo Kallio/Jere Nuppola were tough rivals to Markku Artiola/Kasper Arokivi already last season.
Does Kallio’s new bike add pressure?
- I’ve pimped my own ride. Timo Kallio is now riding the number one sidecar in England, so the pressure to succeed is on him, Artiola says laughing.
In the upcoming Motorbike19 exhibition this weekend it’s possible to take a look at Rockmotorsport’s new sidecar and see it in action on the indoor track on Friday at 13.30, Saturday at 12.35 and 15.40 and Sunday at 14.30.
Will Artiola Sidecar Racing also be present in the exhibition?
– I’ll be in SRRA’s department on Friday and Saturday, this time without my own bike. I just need to find a place to stay over that time.
Unlike during the previous years the Finnish road racing national series will start in May in Auto24ring. From there Artiola Sidecar Racing and Rockmotorsport will continue straight to Assen to take part in a sidecar race in 25-26.5.
What kind of a race is this?
– It’s an international race, kind of like Imatranajot. Timo Kallio, Tero Manninen and possibly also Petri Virtanen will be joining us there. We’re also trying to lure other people to join, as there are only two races before Imatranajot and one can’t race in Imatra without any warm up races, Markku explains.
After the Finnish racing season has ended, your team has often participated in European races. Do you have any such racing trips planned ahead?
– Plan is to take part in Oschersleben and IDM Hockenheim races in September-October. Altogether we have 11-12 racing weekends for this season, Artiola sums up.
Translation provided by Eeva-Kaisa Elonen