FIA World Rally Championship

Kim Vatanen: 1972–2024

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Credit: Kim Vatanen

Kim Vatanen, who oversaw the careers of drivers like Sébastien Ogier and Toomas Heikkinen, died Monday at the age of 51 after battling cancer.

The eldest son of 1981 World Rally Champion and four-time Dakar Rally winner Ari Vatanen, he raced alongside his father in the French Gravel and European Rally Championships in the early 1990s. He later became a professional golfer, competing on the Challenge Tour when it visited his native Finland for the Finnish Challenge and Finnish Open at the turn of the millennium.

After rekindling his interest in racing, he became a manager and agent for rally drivers as the co-head of V&V Sport Management alongside Atte Varsta. Ogier, who idolised the older Vatanen, began working with Kim in 2008 before becoming one of the greatest drivers in WRC history. Other V&V clients included Heikkinen, the late Craig Breen, Vatanen’s younger brother Max Vatanen, Hayden Paddon, Jari Ketomaa, Aki Sahila, and Ralfs Sirmacis.

Outside of motorsport, he was the founder of Vatanen Experience, which organises fishing trips and winter events in Lapland.

He is survived by his wife Minna Helle, the first woman to serve as Finland’s National Conciliator.

Kim Vatanen: 13 September 1972 – 27 May 2024

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