Emma Kimiläinen was 3 years old when she drove the first time with a karting car and competed the first time at the age of 5. Success in karting classes led to the Formula Ford Championship class from which she proceeded to the European Touring Car series. In 2018 she returned to single seaters and started to compete in women’s W Series.
Alongside her racing career, Emma is a well known radio and TV host in her home country of Finland and she is also an experienced public speaker.
Currently Emma is preparing for the coming W Series season where her only goal is to win the championship. Emma is a passionate piston-head whose best preparation for formula racing is sporty trail riding with snowmobiles in wintertime.
Emma Kimiläinen enjoying spring ride in Lapland with the 2022 Rave RE 850.
Emma: My dad purchased a snowmobile when I was a kid. I remember how I sat in front of him when he rode the sled. At the time we had a cabin in southern Finland where I was able to ride whenever the lakes were frozen and there was enough snow for riding. We always had our sled with us when we travelled north on our winter holidays. I got a tractor driver’s license when I was 15 which allowed me to legally ride a snowmobile. Tractor is one of the few vehicles I have never driven yet! I had a gap of many years from snowmobiling as an adult and I rode just a couple of times each winter. Last season I fixed that and after a long time I finally got to ride several times in Lapland.
Emma: I ride mostly on trail. I like to ride with a sporty style, in as many different trails as possible. In our riding group, I am usually the one who asks the rest of the group to continue riding after 2 hours of fast riding! I have also tried deep-snow riding a couple of times. I find that very interesting and challenging which fits me. I love challenges and always want to learn new things. In deep-snow riding you have to use totally different riding techniques and you have to use your body in a different way than in trail riding. It would be awesome to get to ride deep snow more next season.
Emma: A lot. In both you have to have good reactions, riding instinct and three-dimensional perceptual ability. Even though you sit in different positions and use your body in different ways in a race car and a sled, you have to drive both with every part of your body with body feeling. In a race car you have to sense how weather conditions affect a track and grip – just like when riding a sled, you have to feel how current conditions affect grip. It is all about adapting to the vehicle and surface and how you tune your own actions to be faster. Snowmobiling is good training for me and actually the only sport in winter that shares the same elements with car racing. Snowmobiling is also very good physical training. In the W Series we drive 40 minute races where the average heart rate is about 20 percent from your maximum. The heart rate zone is quite similar, that you have in trail riding on a demanding, bumpy trail.
Emma: The Rave Enduro fits well for my physique and riding style. The suspension is just insanely good out of the box: it’s stiff enough and eats moguls well. The short track is optimal for trail and helps a rider with my size control the vehicle with weight transfer. In tight turns, you can have a controlled slide with just a little touch to the brake lever. The 600cc engine is great for this sled and with that you can hit the throttle in the right spot of a corner’s apex – just like with a race car. I have also tried the Rave RE 850 model and without a doubt, the Rave Enduro with the same engine would be a fascinating idea. Just a bit more power, and Rave Enduro would be my dream sled!
Emma: Group of friends, some mountain scenery for location and a couple of different sleds. First we would ride a couple of days sporty on trails to some point, spend the night in the wilderness and next day we would continue our adventure with deep-snow sleds. Campfire, outdoor spirit and lovely people. This could happen for example in Norway or in Russia. There is always a good spirit in snowmobiling and I never ride alone. Through snowmobiling I have met people who have a mix of adventurous spirit, sportiness and piston-head mentality!
Emma will be aiming for the championship for the W Series starting in June. According to her, snowmobiling is the best way to prepare for the racing season in winter.
Emma: The cars are FIA’s Formula 3 standard F3 T-318 formula cars which feature the Alfa Romeo 1.8 litre turbocharged engine. Top speeds on straightaways are a maximum of 270 kilometers per hour (168 mph). They are raw race cars without power steering or extra electronics. Brake balance is the only attribute that a driver can adjust when driving. It requires driver input to turn the car in corners and you have to struggle against G-forces and vibrations with your whole body.
Emma’s racing car is a reduced and raw Formula 3 type racing car that runs at a maximum of 270 kilometers per hour on straightaways. The car has very little electronics and turning the car without power-steering requires a lot of rider input. Photo: W Series
Emma: I am really looking forward to the coming season because the previous season was cancelled due the covid-19 pandemic. The huge thing now is that our races will be held in conjunction with F1 races on the same race circuits. That means a large increase in visibility for the W Series and gives us as drivers a great opportunity to show our talent to influential people in motorsports. I believe that within five years at the latest we will see a female driver in F1. At the age of 32, I am getting maybe too old for that, but I believe that increased visibility of the W Series will help me find new interesting work opportunities in motorsports.
Our series is very even and when we all race similar cars, the difference between the drivers really matters. The last complete season of 2019 left a lot of cause for disappointment because I missed half of the races due to my injury. The championship is of course my main goal now, but the short season with 8 races doesn’t give room for suspensions or other misfortunes. You can’t try to win every race by force – I believe that by finishing consistently with good points will lead to success in the championship race.