Toni Vilander, 41, is Finnish race car driver who became Ferrari race driver in 2006 after a long career in karting and Formula Renault classes. Besides his active racing career, Toni has had a close relationship with snowmobiling since childhood when he tried the sport for the first time at his home, Kankaanpää, Southern Finland . Nowadays he enjoys especially long journeys on the trails in Lapland.
Toni is a fanatic trail rider so it’s not a big surprise that the Rave RE is a perfect match for him.
Toni: I am still a part of the Ferrari racing team but currently running without a race schedule for the complete season. This season I’ve driven four race weekends in the Italian GT Series but I’ve been working on the commercial side as a brand ambassador more. Among other things, I help Ferrari race car owners in Club GT events by following their performance on track and helping them become better drivers.
I’m also involved in the operation of Luxury Collection which is a Ferrari dealer in Lempäälä, Finland. We also have a store in Tallinn and soon we are going to open a store in Helsinki.
Together with my wife and partner we run a racing style Bar & Grill Varikko (“pit”) in my hometown Kankaanpää.
This fall I am also busy in my role as a Formula 1 commentator in Finnish television. Hopefully we are able to cover the races live from the track in coming months, rather than virtually.
Toni: I think my biggest achievement in the sport is that I’ve managed to make motorsports – my biggest passion – a profession and been able to do it for so long. My 15-year career in Ferrari has given me a lot: I’ve learned the Italian language and I’ve been able to be a part of the legendary racing family and community of Ferrari.
As individual achievements I would highlight two victories in the 24 Hours of LeMans race in GT class and the victory in the Bathurst 12h race in Australia 2017. Of course the World Championship in GTE Pro class in 2014 is also memorable.
Toni on the track in Monza with Ferrari 488 GTE at FIA WEC competition, July 2021. Photo: Ferrari
Toni: My uncle had a powersports store in Mäntsälä, Southern Finland, when I was a kid. For Christmas holidays I was able to borrow a kid’s sled from the store to ride. My father is from Rovaniemi and he has had snowmobiles at his home from the beginning. When I got big enough, I got to ride his sleds and maintain them. My childhood home was in a sparsely populated area so I could ride there in the fields.
During my active racing career I couldn’t ride that much because winters were so busy. Racing season ended in early December and the test sessions for the next season started already in early January. You had to avoid any injuries because the racing season would have gone to waste right away. Also the body needed rest.
In the last ten years I’ve been able to ride much more on snowmobiles.
Toni: Active, fast trail riding is the thing for me with a sled. Even though the riding would be fast-paced, I still always use common sense. I don’t want to end up at a hospital. My main goal is to get in the sauna in one piece after a riding day.
In past years I did ride some enduro races in amateur class but with age I’ve been orientated more towards long journeys on trail than riding against a clock.
Last winter we had a 900-km journey with my friends in four days across the trails of Lapland. Early start in mornings, 5 to 6 hours on trail and then a sauna at our nightly accommodations – those were magnificent riding days.
For me, adventure is a part of snowmobiling. Often we are the first riders on the trail from Rovaniemi to Levi in November, and sometimes we get lost there because there are no other tracks to follow. In turn, we have our last spring rides when creeks flow freely on swamps and the sun warms in May.
Toni: Sporty trail sled fits me best. I have owned several Lynx Rave RE models and my two last rides were Rave Enduros. For the coming season I’m expecting to have a new Rave RE 600R E-TEC. I really love that sled.
The development of the model has been stunning during the last 10 years especially in terms of the engine and suspension. It's nearly perfect for me right out of the box, and it is ready for a fierce ride straight from the production line.
I also appreciate the reliability of Lynx. It runs from the start button no matter the conditions and it has never left me on the trail.
Toni: Both brands evoke strong, positive emotions in me. I have a special relationship with Ferrari because the brand has been my employer for 15 years and I am the factory driver who has the longest working history for the brand. Ferrari is one of the most famous brands in the world.
I am touched by the Finnishness of Lynx besides the fact that the home of the brand is in Rovaniemi - the same hometown as my father.
I’m lucky enough to have looked behind the scenes of both Lynx and Ferrari. There are some striking similarities in their development strategies and their determination. Operation is organized and high-quality in all levels.
Toni (bottom left) celebrating the victory of the 2018 SRO World Challenge America with his driving pair Miguel Molina and Ferrari team. Photo: Ferrari.
Toni: Riding a sled is an excellent way to exercise for car racing. It includes reading the trail and a physical workout for your whole body.
Long distance, and long hours on the trail support endurance races on the track which I have driven a lot. Your muscles have to be used to continuous shaking and you have to maintain your focus 100% for many hours.
I have never ridden two-wheelers but in snowmobiling I have managed to reach the level that I can keep up with the pace set by seasoned riders. That brings a good feeling!
Toni: It was two years ago when we had a long journey around the Finnish Lapland from Rovaniemi to the northwesternmost parts of the country. The landscape changed drastically when we reached Kilpisjärvi: suddenly we were surrounded by high fells (highlands, small mountains) and you felt very small in the middle of them. The trail went through open terrain in the highland and you could quickly become disoriented as your eyes could easily lose the horizon – heavy blasts just shook you on the sled.
Even though I enjoy fast riding, for me snowmobiling is also a way to relax and get into the middle of nature. I enjoy the views on sleds and sometimes I just stop on the side of the trail to admire wild animals like reindeers and birds.
Learn more about Toni's ride
Meet another Finnish formula driver Emma Kimiläinen who also loves snowmobiling.
How a Finnish lady became a snowmobile racer?