Friday | 17 Dec 2021

Top 10 Drivers of the Year: Jesse Kallio (7th)

In our countdown of the Top 10 Drivers of the Year in 2021 across the FIA World Rallycross Championship, FIA RX2e Championship and FIA European Rallycross Championships (Euro RX1 and RX3), it’s time to unveil the driver in 7th place – RX2e runner-up Jesse Kallio.

Jesse Kallio spent the entire FIA RX2e Championship campaign playing catch-up to Guillaume De Ridder, but to his immense credit, the Finn never once threw in the towel or gave up on glory – and his performance in the Nürburgring season finale was one of the finest produced by any driver all season.

Kallio’s challenge in the Catalunya curtain-raiser was thwarted by contact at the start of the final that dropped him down the order just as he was turning up the wick, but he bounced back immediately with a sublime success in Sweden to ignite the title duel.

Evenly-matched with De Ridder in both France and Belgium, the 22-year-old was narrowly pipped by the Belgian on both occasions – to third place at Lohéac and victory at Spa-Francorchamps, where he had looked initially to have the upper hand – but he came out fighting in Germany.

Despite topping the qualifying standings, Kallio knew the battle was all-but over, but still he wanted to show what he was capable of one last time. A scruffy start in the final saw him slip to fourth, but thereafter, he was on mesmerising form, setting a quickest lap almost four tenths-of-a-second better than anybody else could muster as he battled his way back to finish runner-up in both the race and the championship.