As 2017 is coming to an end, Matias Henkola can look back on a year of accomplishments. With multiple visits to the podium in the VLN championship at the Nürburgring, a fifth Pro-Am place on his 24 Hours of Spa debut and another podium finish in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup at Silverstone, it’s been the Finn’s most successful racing season to date. 

Matias Henkola on…

…the season in general.

“Even though the results weren’t what we as a team were hoping for this season, I was really pleased with my own performance. In endurance racing there is only so much a driver can do and looking back, I’m happy with what I did. 

“It’s important to remember that I race with an amateur licence and being able to outperform professionals at different events over the season is a pretty cool feeling.”

…lessons learned.

“I learned a lot on two fronts this year. First, on the GP tracks. Driving on less grippy tyres, a closer field and less space, whereas the Nordschleife is more about having the balls to push and having a sixth sense for traffic. 

“And second, being more consistent at the limit. Especially in tricky weather conditions I could really give the pros a run for their money.”

…racing alongside highly-rated professional race car drivers such as Markus Palttala and Christian Krognes.

“Racing with them motivated me to work on the details and not just assume I was ready for a weekend. This meant doing the extra check-and-re-check, making sure everything was in such a way that my performance was the best it could be and always pushing the limit a bit further. 

“We spent a lot of time with Christian Krognes analysing where I could win a tenth here and there on the Nürburgring. It’s pretty nice to have the fastest guy at the Nürburgring to use as reference and especially to have such a cool teammate who was willing to sacrifice so much of his time to improve the whole team. 

“I respect Markus Palttala both as a friend and as driver. He’s an incredible guy and it was very cool to share the Spa 24 Hours with him.

“And last but not least, Michele Di Martino. He has an amazing amount of natural speed as well as being a mega cool guy. What more can you ask from your teammates?”

…the good… 

“Even though we had some hiccups at Spa and missed the podium, it was the most impressive and memorable event of the year. It really is the hardest and most competitive race I’ve ever done. 70 equal cars over 7 kilometres of racetrack with the best GT drivers in the world going head to head for 24 hours is quite the spectacle.”

…and the bad.

“Missing out on starting the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring race due to the car being beyond repair after our accident in the qualifying on Friday was the biggest heartbreak. At the same time, I am extremely proud of how professional and mature our BMW Junior was with the aftermath. All four drivers and our supportive team bosses stuck together and tried to help him cope with the accident and the pressure he went through. It takes a lot of character in a moment like this from all parties involved and we made it through the disappointment, frustration and sadness by taking it as a team.”

…plans for 2018.

“For next year I can say with certainty that I’ll drive the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring and pre-season on a Pro car. A few deals are on the table, but nothing is signed. In addition to that, I’m hoping for a Bronze seat in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup or other series where an Am-classified driver is needed. 

“Am deals tend to come quite last-minute, but after pretty much setting the pace for Bronze drivers this year, I feel quite confident that some of the discussions I’ve had will turn into a drive.” 

This article was originally published by REPORT as a press release for Matias Henkola. Subscribe to the mailing list (subscribe here to the German mailing list) to receive yours directly in your inbox.


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