„I learned the difference between left and right, and ended up in the co-driver seat”- interview with Ola Floene

He went through lot of things, worked with champions. He showed that he is a good navigator, his results says that. And he is still evolving! Where is the end? He answered to our questions, you will know everything from it!


You worked with the best rally drivers in the world and earned nice successes. But at first, please tell us, how did you get in touch with motorsport? How did your career started?

Good question! My parents wanted me to be a cross country skier, but I didn’t like it at all. But the problem was that I won almost every event I competed in, so they thought their son was going to be the next Olympic champion or something! But I really didn’t like that, and didn’t want to become a cyclist either, even though I was good at that too when I was younger.

But my grandfather understood me better, and when I was about twelve, he took me to Motocross practice – and I loved it! So I went all in with Motocross. My Motocross background actually helped me when I wanted to go from the WRC to the Dakar, and Rally Raids, as I used a KTM enduro bike to practice in both Spain and Morocco, to learn navigation, and learn to read the sand dunes.

I plan to continue using a KTM 450 for more navigation practice, and next year I want to again compete in some desert rallies with a motorbike. With a bike I am alone, so if I make a navigation mistake, it’s only hurting myself. So that way I can take bigger risks in navigation, to learn more.

The drivers are really famous, because they are really brave. You aren’t a driver. Why did you become a navigator?

My dream was to become a rally driver, but I didn’t have the financial resources needed, so instead I learned the difference between left and right, and ended up in the co-driver seat. Thats the short story. But I had a dream of one time making a living of motorsport, and I though the chances for reaching that goal was better being a co-driver than a driver, and I was right.

You worked with the best rally drivers during the years. But please try to tell us, who was your favourite driver partner? Who was the best to work with?

It’s impossible to say who is the best, as all the drivers I have worked with have their strengths and weaknesses.

Emil Bergkvist is a great Swedish talent that is a soldier when it comes to the ability to work hard for his goals.

Pontus Tidemand and I became Junior World Champions, and that was of course very special to get that title.

And we have done a lot together, both rallying and testing.

Mads Østberg impressed me with his sharp brain, and quick learning abilities.

But if I have to pick one it has to be Andreas Mikkelsen. We had our ups and downs, I was his co-driver from when he started at 16 years of age. First we were in WRC cars, and everything looked great. Then the financial crisis put that effort on hold, so we started from scratch in the Norwegian Subaru Cup. And made some great results in that car, the most special was winning the South Swedish Rally overall, maybe the best rally Andreas has ever driven. And from there it went to S2000, and we became IRC Champions for Skoda, and from there to Volkswagen in the WRC team, with team mates Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala, and of course their codrivers. And the highlight was off course winning overall in Rally Catalunya in 2015.

You competed on lot of WRC rallies, you were good there. So what was the reason, why did you turn to Dakar rally and competed there?

In total I have competed in 326 rallies. A large portion of them are WRC events. So I have been to every WRC event, and many of them in different cars like R2’s in the Junior World Championship, R5’s in WRC2, and off corse WRC cars in both private teams, but also – in my opinion – in the best WRC team in modern times, the Jost Capito run, and Red Bull sponsored Volkswagen WRC team. So i felt I had done the WRC, and needed a new challenge. I did my first Dakar in 2006, and I fell in love with the challenge. So when I quit the WRC, I wanted to go back to the desert. And I see Offroad rallying, Rally Raids, and Baja having a very bright future, and I see that the interest is growing all the time.

And I really love my new challenge, and am very thankful to both Red Bull and Team Yazeed, for having me onboard.

You spent more than 20 years in motorsport. You are here since old times, you are really experienced. The motorsport is greener and greener, this is the newest trend. But it makes lot of conflict between people. What do you think about it? How would you make the motorsport greener?

Motorsport needs to be greener, there is no question about it. I think this is a great opportunity for Motorsport. As Motorsport has become more specialised, and the regulations stricter, both race and rally cars have lost much of their relevance to street cars. But with green technology motorsport can be more relevant again, so I welcome it.

In the Dakar it’s impossible to compete with an electric vehicle, so that sets new targets for range and weight, that has to be reached in a green way. The FIA is doing a lot on this front, and in particular I am interested in their efforts with synthetic fuels, as this could be the answer to making the Dakar green.

What are your experiences about our country, Hungary and the Hungarian motorsport?

I have great experiences in Hungary, and have many Hungarian friends. I love your people, you have beautiful women, great nature, and I especially like the scenery around the Lake Balaton. In regards to Hungarian motorsport I have some great experiences. In 2018 I was the navigator for the Dakar legend Dirk von Zitzewitz, who has also been a very important offroad and rally raid mentor for me, and we won the SSV class in the Hungarian Baja with a big margin, with a totally stock Can-Am X3.

In 2011 Andreas Mikkelsen and I did the Canon Mecsek Rallye, when it was part of the IRC, and we took the lead from the first stage, and led until we crashed on stage 13. From all my motorsport experiences in Hungary, one that sticks out is standing on the stages watching the crazy drivers in the Lada VFTS´s! 

You’re really experienced, you went through lot of things. But what are your goals for the future?

My goal is to win the Dakar overall as a co-driver within 5 years.


Source: Ola Floene, Ole-Martin Lundefaret

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