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BMW Motorrad Motorsport

Helsinki, Finland, 03/08/2016,

The Finnish dream team

Interview with Pekka Päivärinta and Kirsi Kainulainen

These two form a perfect team, both on the track and in private: Pekka Päivärinta and Kirsi Kainulainen. They have already made history several times in the FIM Sidecar World Championship (SWC) with their sidecar, powered by a BMW S 1000 RR engine. Last season, Kainulainen became the first woman to win a world championship medal in road racing. After eight podium finishes, the Finnish pair ended the season in third place overall.

The next historic milestone came this year, at the Pannonia-Ring in Hungary. Päivärinta and Kainulainen claimed sprint race victory in their 44-Racing sidecar. This made Kainulainen the first woman in the history to have won a world championship road race.

Next weekend marks the start of the second half of the Sidecar World Championship season at Assen - and Päivärinta/Kainulainen will be travelling to the Netherlands as current world championship leaders. In this interview, we find out that the outwardly cool Finns can be really temperamental. Learn more about the four-time world champion and his partner, who knows about standing by her man - even when it comes to boxing.

Fascination sidecar racing

Question: “When did you start your careers in racing? And in what categories have you raced before you came into the Sidecar World Championship?"

Pekka Päivärinta: “When I was 12 years old, I started with Motocross, and I then rode Speedway when I was 15 to 17. In Sidecar racing, I started in 1993, at the age of 22. In the first year as a passenger, then as a driver. I won the World Championship title four times to date, in 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2013.”

Kirsi Kainulainen: “I started when I was three and a half years old, with a little, 50 cc moped. My first race was when I was 11 in the 80 cc Motocross class. At the age of 14, I started with circuit racing, beginning in the 125 cc class. Now, I am racing in the 600 cc class – but I am taking a break from that this season, as I fully focus on Sidecar World Championship. Every winter, I am also competing in Ice Road Racing.”

Question: “Kirsi, how did you get interested in sidecar racing? Was it Pekka who introduced you to the sport?"

Kainulainen: “Yes, my interest in sidecar racing came when I saw Pekka competing in the Finnish championship with Adolf Hänni and Timo Karttiala. I saw how fast they were and what incredible speed they were going at – so I got interested. And I told Pekka that I would like to try it as a passenger myself.”

Question: “What is the fascination about sidecar racing?”

Kainulainen: “Sidecar racing is very exciting, and it is also hard work. You also have to be smart if you want to perfectly understand what your partner plans to do next. This is not easy, but the driver and the passenger need a kind of blind understanding.”

Päivärinta: “Well – sidecar racing is my life, what else can I say?”

A power couple – in private life and at the race track

Question: “You are not just a team in racing but also a couple in private life. How did you meet?”

Kainulainen: “We met at the paddock and later, Pekka contacted me via Facebook (smiles)”.

Question: “At the race-track: who of you two is the ‘boss’? Do you sometimes have arguments? And if yes – who is the ‘winner’ in the end?”

Kainulainen: “At the race track, we work very well together as a team. But it is true: it is a problem as Pekka always wants to be the ‘boss’ – and me, too! (laughs). We are both very temperamental people, and in the paddock – as everywhere else – we are always discussing everything. But on track it is perfect, as you can’t hear the other (laughs). No, lets get serious: we have the main thing in common, as we both want to win.”

Question: “How important is it in sidecar racing to fully trust your partner?”

Kainulainen: “You need to trust each other 120 per cent. And you also must be committed 120 per cent. If this is not the case in a team, it can be dangerous.”

Question: “Pekka, why is Kirsi the perfect passenger?”

Päivärinta: “For many reasons. She is lightweight and physically fit. And, as she is a motorcycle racer herself, she has an enormous understanding for the driver and knows the perfect lines in corners.”

Question: “Kirsi, why is Pekka the perfect driver?”

Kainulainen: “Pekka is a great driver because he is very fast and clever. He has a very flowing and smooth driving style and makes no mistakes. And he has already won many, many times (smiles)”.

Historic moments

Question: “Kirsi, last year you were the first woman to win a World Championship medal in road racing, this year you were the first woman to win a World Championship race in road racing. What does this mean to you?”

Kainulainen: “My first World Championship medal last year was a big thing – and it is very important to me now, even if initially the end of the season was a bit disappointing. But third overall was the best we could achieve last year and now I am really happy with that result. To take the first win this season was a great moment in my life, and I am still very moved by it. This is such an extraordinary feeling, and it is exactly these emotions that only our sport can give us.”

Question: “You are a part of the BMW Motorrad Motorsport family and always among the top positions in the Race Trophy. How do you like the worldwide community and this special competition – and how did you invest the prize money you won last year?”

Päivärinta: “The BMW Motorrad Race Trophy is a very good concept, and we are very grateful that we are a part of the BMW family. That all this is possible makes us very happy and it is important for us.”

Kainulainen: “And the prize money went completely on our sidecar. We invested it in parts, tyres, fuel and everything we need to go racing.”

From the construction site into the boxing ring

Question: “Tell us about your life outside the race track. What are your occupations and how do you like to spend your time off?”

Päivärinta: “I am self-employed in the construction industry and have a small company. My hobbies are very sporty: cross country skiing, running and Ice Road Racing.”

Kainulainen: “I also have a company that provides craftsmen services on building sites. Actually, I am a qualified car mechanic and I worked in that job for ten years. But I had to quit this job after I had two back surgeries, as the working posture was anything but ideal and I could not do it anymore day in and day out. In addition, I work a bit in a gym and as personal trainer. When I have time off I love boxing, and that is one of my favourite hobbies. And I go cross country skiing, running and bicycling, I train in the gym and, as I already said, also compete in Ice Road Racing.”

Päivärinta: “If we are not racing, we are working or training. But, of course, we also try to spend time with the rest of the family.”

Question: “The Finns are strong in nearly every motorsport racing category on two and four wheels – what is the secret why the Finns are such good racers?”

Päivärinta: “I think it is because Finland is a country with many forests and long winters. So you just take a car or a bike or whatever and go driving or riding. In the wintertime on frozen lakes and in summer in the forest and on lonely sandy roads.”

Kainulainen: “What else interesting is there for you to do if you live in these huge forest?” (laughs)

Question: “We are halfway through the season – what is your goal for the second half? For sure it is to win the World Championship title?”

Päivärinta: “We will see what will happen in the second half of the season and, of course, we will try our best and want to win the World Championship. But it is not easy and there are many other guys who also want to win it. But we hope that we will have a trouble-free season – with a good end for us.”