As a former Finnish rally driver, Ari won the World Rally Championship drivers’ title in 1981 and the Paris Dakar Rally four times. In 1993, following many years of working with a French rally team, he settled down in southern France where he bought a farm and a winery. Ari soon developed an interest in politics and was elected to the European Parliament for the conservative Finnish National Coalition party in 1999. The topics his has been involved in covered car taxation, traffic policies, development aid, and agricultural policy. Besides writing his autobiography Every Second Counts (1988) which instantly became a best seller, Ari is a signatory of the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism. His professional achievements also include being the Chairman of Mobility for Prosperity in Europe, Member of the Board of trustees of FAS: FIA Foundation for the Automobile and Society, Figurehead for the European Road Safety Charter as well as working for the Vaccine Fund.  In 2008, Ari received Gregor Grant Award for lifetime achievement in motorsport and since 2013, he has been President of the Estonian Autosport Union.

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