“We are a close and determined team.”
Among the prestigious private teams that race on the international scene in FIA Karting like RFM, Ward Racing, Forza Racing and VDK Racing, one team has been making a name for itself for a few seasons now. This is Koski Motorsport, which gives several drivers the opportunity to shine each year. A few months before his 40th birthday, Finnish team manager Jan Koski tells us how he got there…
Many team managers are former kart drivers. Is this the case for you too?
My father was a karting professional in Finland, he distributed some chassis brands and imported TM engines. My sister drove karts and I started racing myself in 1998 at the age of seven. I raced for about ten years, mainly at national level, but I also participated in some international events in Junior and then in ICA when 100cc engines were still used. Then I started working as a mechanic and created a team to run the TM race department in Finland.
How does one become a team manager at international level?
You can’t improvise. It is difficult to start without experience. I had the opportunity to work with the Swedish team Ward Racing. I started to travel with them all over Europe and I learned a lot. At the end of our collaboration, I was in charge of data acquisition. I was able to work with excellent drivers like the Italian Lorenzo Travisanutto and the Dane Christian Lundgaard, when he became European KF-Junior Champion in 2015. After this adventure, Koski Motorsport was created in 2017. Two years later, we intensified our international investment.
Have you left your country, Finland, behind?
No, I am still there. We have already won four Finnish Championship titles. We support about eight to nine drivers, some of them using their own awning. I had to invest in a second truck with a tent, the main one staying in Italy during the racing season, because Finland has the disadvantage of being very far from the countries where most of the FIA Karting events are held. I try to be as organised as possible and it pays off. Our results are constantly improving. In 2019, our Swedish driver Theo Wernersson won the Andrea Margutti Trophy in OK-Junior. At present, we are regularly at the forefront in FIA Karting.
Several private teams of reference have been established for many years. What is your approach to beating them?
They certainly have more experience, but we are determined to work hard to beat them. It’s very exciting. We also have to fight against factory teams. That’s why we are constantly looking for the winning combination: good chassis, good engine and good driver. I think we have reached the level where we can aim for the top spot. We have nothing to envy the others. Of course, to reach our goal, our role is to attract the most talented drivers to us, because it is still difficult to win with a driver who is just starting out internationally.
Getting good technical staff is also a guarantee of success. How do you manage this important aspect as team manager?
This alchemy is created year after year. Part of the success of a team comes from the human skills that it is imperative to assemble. Today, I can be proud of the quality of our staff. At Koski, there is a great dynamic and a desire to move forward together. The search for performance is constant and we are 100% focused on the progress of our drivers. I would add that we have an excellent collaboration with our engine manufacturer One Engines, who prepares our Vortex engines. Our chassis are Tony Karts made by OTK, a benchmark!
How many drivers does the team have?
In general, we support three or four drivers. At the moment we don’t want to have too many. I would rather see four drivers happy to race under our colours than eight who feel they are not supported enough. Even if the competition is tough in OK and OK-Junior, our wish is to allow everyone to flourish in good conditions, by offering them a high quality service and by giving them the tools to reach the best position according to their abilities.
How do you rate the atmosphere in your team?
I am very attached to this aspect. I make sure that the drivers collaborate constantly. Data acquisition and videos are shared, so that everyone can benchmark against each other and push each other in harmony. This is how drivers progress. There should be no number one, number two or number three drivers! We all have to have a common goal: to make sure that everyone thrives within our structure, gives their best and is fast. Only then, of course, can differences arise on the track. In the end, everyone should be happy when a team driver achieves a good result. Our mechanics are the first to set an example and help each other.
How do you manage very young and inexperienced drivers?
Clearly, the team has an important role to play. Today, we can see that in the Mini category, the drivers all want to be in a position to win. However, there are stages that should not be neglected. You can’t improvise your way to the podium. At this level, work remains essential, the driver must invest himself.
Are you hoping for the return of an FIA Karting event to Finland?
The 2019 World Championship in Alahärmä was a great event! Unfortunately, we don’t have many other circuits capable of organising such an event in Finland. Of course, I would love to see a World or European Championship there again. For the moment I am focused on winning races, no matter which circuit I have to go to…
Info FIA Karting / Photo © KSP