”The most memorable situation in sim racing for me, so far, happened last year in the VRS GT iRacing Series’ 4th round, when I was catching 2018’s champion Maximilian Benecke, and the driver behind, trying to catch me, was Greger Huttu, a legend in the sim racing scene. When I realized that whole scenario while driving, it put a smile on my face.”
25-year-old Antti Ahola started sim racing in 2017 and a year later he noticed just how good he was. Long before that he was interested in sim racing but when you want to be a top driver, you need more than a PlayStation.
– I have always been a motorsports fan but unfortunately I have never been able to properly test my skills in a real race car. About ten years ago I saw a video about iRacing. I started to search more information about it and when I saw pictures of different sim racing equipment, I got the feeling that I want to do that too. Back then I didn’t have money or space for such equipment, but in the autumn of 2017 everything aligned perfectly and, well, the rest is history I guess, Ahola reminiscents.
Even though Ahola’s short career in sim racing, rounding up his third year in the sport later this year, he has ranked up quite a bit of success in different series and races. He isn’t always the driver you would bet on to win, but because of smart driving and consistent results, he has always been fighting for the overall victory in different series.
– I see myself as a dark horse and that is fine by me, Ahola laughs.
In every sport it takes lots of practise and time to stay at the top. So it does in sim racing. Ahola practises several hours per day, sometimes even for a whole working day or more.
– Of course you want to get good results in races but you can’t forget normal life. Sometimes it is hard to keep a balance between them. I have to practice a lot but also want to give time to my relationship and our dog. On the other hand it is good when you realize that you can’t just practice from the moment you wake up till you go back to sleep, Ahola tells.
– It took some time to realize and adapt my routines to accommodate both, sim racing and real life. Thanks to my lovely girlfriend, I believe I’ve learned how to balance both, he admits.
Despite his relatively short sim racing career, Ahola has been on the top-step of the podium more than once. Just to name a few, in January this year, he won the ”Rengas Turku 24H Simrace” alongside fellow KOVA Esports driver Valtteri Alander and just before joining KOVA Esports he also won the “Vauhdin Festivaali 6h Imola” race with Tuomas Tähtelä, who is also driving under KOVA’s name.
– In sim racing, it’s best to be able to race honestly against others and know that the respect is mutual, so the racing is fair but tough. No one wants to knock others out. It’s amazing when it happens, Ahola sums up.
Before KOVA, Ahola was part of a international esports organization Altus Esports together with Tuomas Tähtelä. He is also familiar with other KOVA’s drivers and members, because in Finland everyone knows each other in the sim racing scene.
– Each of our drivers are really fast. Everyone has their own strengths and our team is strong and well balanced.
Ahola’s goal for this year is to succeed in personal competitions, for example in Finnish esports championship final, held in 8.8.2020, which is organized by Finnish Sim Racing Association (FiSRA) together with AKK and Finnish Esports Federation (SEUL ry). It’s Ahola’s first time in this race. It is also very clear to him who he wants to beat.
– You always compare yourself to your own teammates. You have to believe that when you help your team you will also get help when you need it. We are all at the same starting line so all that matters is your own driving, Ahola tells.