Jarmo Lehtinen cannot remember when rallying was not a feature in his life. His father took a young Jarmo and friend Jari Mikkola to rallies almost as soon as they were old enough to walk, so it was no surprise when, in 1988, Mikkola asked Lehtinen if he wanted to co-drive his first rally car.
At the age of 24, Lehtinen was drafted into the Army for one year of compulsory training. After finishing, an advertisement in his local newspaper caught his eye, seeking interest in a newly established Rally Coaching School for co-drivers.
Lehtinen applied and was one of only six people chosen to participate. His reputation as a co-driver grew and he assisted a number of drivers.
Partnerships with Marko Ramanen in the Finnish and British championships and alongside Jouni Ampuja on home ground led to a meeting with Mikko Hirvonen, who had set himself such a busy development programme that he needed two co-drivers.
It was a partnership that flourished and Lehtinen joined Hirvonen on all his WRC outings from 2003 at Ford, Subaru and Citroën until they retired in 2014.
Together they won 15 world rallies, finished runners-up in the world championship on four occasions and helped Ford win the manufacturers’ world title in 2006 and 2007.
After retirement, Lehtinen was sporting director at Toyota Gazoo Racing when the Japanese manufacturer returned to the WRC in 2017. He left in August that year and has most recently worked as a consultant in the championship.
He restarted his co-driving career at the highest level midway through 2019 when he joined fellow Finn Teemu Suninen at M-Sport Ford.