News 2003

Johanna Herlevi takes Eurocup tractor pulling championship

320 1Fresh Eurocup winner.
Valtra takes first and second in finals

Going into the Eurocup tractor pulling finals in Bettborn, Luxembourg, the competition in the Pro Stock 3500 class was extremely tight. Johanna Herlevi headed the points standing together with Martin Nicholson from England. In the finals, Johanna finished the season for the Valtra Shell pulling team in style, winning the Bettborn competition overwhelmingly.

All of the Valtra tractors completed a full pull on their first attempt, qualifying them immediately for the pull off finals. Martin Nicholson, who shared the lead with Johanna before the last event, failed to get off the line on the first pull. His second pull also came up short, meaning that the Eurocup championship would be decided between Johanna and Pekka Herlevi.

“I chose too small a gear,” said a disappointed Nicholson after his pull.

Overwhelming performance by Johanna

Already during the first pull it was obvious that this summer’s European Champion Matti Herlevi was having problems with traction. This continued in the pull off, and Matti had to be satisfied with fourth place. Pekka Herlevi got better grip and managed 94.70 meters. Next up was a John Deere from Denmark, which stopped short of Pekka’s pull by just 50 centimeters. With her tractor ‘Doris’, Johanna achieved another impressive full pull, measuring 100.32 meters.

“It was such a tight situation that we had to fine-tune Doris and put on new tyres. This really paid off,” said Pekka.

“I had good traction on both pulls, and Doris was in fine shape throughout,” commented a delighted Johanna after winning the Eurocup event.

Ending the season on a high note

The Valtra Shell pulling team had an excellent season overall. Johanna won the Finnish Championships and the Eurocup. Matti in turn won the European Championships for the third time in a row. Pekka was runner-up in both the Eurocup and Finnish series.

“We had no major problems with any of the tractors during the season, so it was also a successful season in this regard,” said Pekka speaking for the entire Valtra team.

Although the 2003 season ended with the Luxembourg event, the team will not rest on its laurels. “The competition has become tougher all the time this season, and the other teams are really close. We have to work hard if we want to maintain our supremacy,” said Johanna.

321 1Pekka´s solid performance on whole season brought him a second place at Eurocup.

Valtra takes 1-2-3 at European Tractor Pulling Championships

301 1The winning team.
Matti Herlevi European Champion third year in a row

The Valtra Shell pulling team took an impressive 1-2-3 at this year’s European Tractor Pulling Championships held in Alahärmä, Finland on 6-7 September. Victory in the Pro Stock 3500 class went to Matti Herlevi, followed by Pekka Herlevi in second place and Johanna Herlevi close behind in third place. The level of this year’s exciting European Championship event was very high.

Demanding track for drivers and tractors

The Alahärmä track was in exceptional condition. The hard and durable surface proved to be very demanding for the drivers and their machines. All Valtra entries nevertheless achieved a full pull on their first attempt, guaranteeing them a place in the finals after just one pull. Altogether eight drivers made it into the Pull Off finals. Matti Herlevi set the standard early by pulling over a 100 metres on his first attempt. Pekka and Johanna were next to pull, but both came up short. The competition for second place was extremely tight, and Valtra’s 1-2-3 was not confirmed until the very last pull. In the end less than 3 metres separated second and fourth places.

“It was a close competition, and the track put a lot of demands on both drivers and tractors. Everyone had fine-tuned their machinery especially for the European Championships, so the tractors were all in excellent form,” commented Johanna Herlevi.

Impressive drive gives Matti the victory

This was the third year in a row that Matti Herlevi has been crowned European Tractor Pulling Champion. Matti’s victory came after a particularly stylish drive.

“I didn’t get good grip on the first pull, even though it was a very nice full pull,” said Matti.

“In the Pull Off, I started from the middle of the lane but found myself heading for the right edge. I corrected this by touching the brakes, which brought Caesar back into the centre of the track where there was a good line. Both pulls felt really fantastic,” added Matti after his winning pulls in sunny Alahärmä.

In the Pull Off, Matti achieved a very straight pull that saw his Valtra tractor ‘Caesar’ clearly out pull the other competitors. Matti’s pull measured 100.85 metres, whereas Pekka Herlevi in second place could only manage 93.21 metres. Johanna Herlevi has had good results throughout the summer in the Euro Cup and took third place in the European Championships, pulling 91.56 metres with her tractor ‘Doris’.

“The entire season has gone exceptionally well for me, so I had very high expectations coming into the European Championships. Third place is a bit of a disappointment, therefore, although Valtra’s 1-2-3 finish was really fantastic. I’m proud of the team!” commented Johanna.

302 1Matti and strong Valtra.

Tommi Mäkinen Tractor Triathlon champion

291 1Pekka Herlevi advises the world champions on tractor-pulling.
Marcus Grönholm comes second in light-hearted competition, Johanna Herlevi just behind in third

On Wednesday 13 August, Valtra arranged a fun Tractor Triathlon between three stars of motor sports. The three disciplines were tractor-pulling, precision-driving with a tractor, and go-carting. The three competitors were rally world champions Tommi Mäkinen and Marcus Grönholm plus tractor-pulling European champion Johanna Herlevi.

The competitors all had different feelings as they headed into competition. Marcus’s motto was “Towards New Humiliations”. Tommi’s goal was clear: “It is not winning that’s important, it’s winning big.” Johanna, meanwhile, felt that the rally stars (and former farmers) both had an edge, at least in the precision-driving and go-carting events.

Surprise victory in tractor-pulling

The tractor-pulling competition was held at the Alahärmä track, which is hosting the European Chamipionships on 5-6 September. Johanna won the toss to start first and set the standard by achieving a pull of 88.40 meters, which she then claimed was just a warm-up. Next up was Marcus Grönholm, whose first two pulls measured less than 20 meters. According to the rules, he was allowed to try again, and on his third pull he managed 40.43 meters. “I didn’t dare rev the engine and slip the clutch enough. My Peugeot has a different clutch,” Marcus explained.

Last up was Tommi Mäkinen, who made a clean pull right from the start, measuring 94.70 metres. Tommi was understandably disappointed at not having achieved a full pull. “I should have given it even more revs. The tractor certainly had the power,” admitted Tommi, referring to the 2000-horsepower Valtra pulling tractor.

Johanna’s first competition pull was only 60 metres, but on her second attempt she achieved a full pull. Marcus obviously learnt from his previous try, achieving a full pull of 106 meters. Tommi had to show Marcus who was boss, and kept on going despite the marshal frantically waving a red flag at the end of the track.

“I had to show Marcus how to do it. I lifted in the middle of my pull when they began to wave all those flags,” claimed Tommi after his 117.40-meter pull.

In the finals, Marcus made it just over 20 meters, while Tommi pulled 72 meters. “It was completely different after they added all that extra weight,” said Tommi.

Johanna was under a lot of pressure before her last pull, this event being her specialty. Her pull nevertheless came up short at just 63.80 meters. “I guess I underestimated the guys in the tractor-pull. The men obviously compete very seriously in everything they do,” said Johanna.

Precision-driving needed for moving bales and reversing with a trailer

After the tractor-pulling event, the competitors headed off to the Poromaa farm to take each other on in the precision-driving event. Using a Valtra T-Series tractor, the goal was to move three wooden blocks with the front-lifter to a certain point, then move two bales onto a trailer with the fork mechanism, and then reverse with a trailer to the finish line.

Tommi Mäkinen showed immediately how a Valtra should be handled, clocking a time of 4.06. “The only mistake I made was dropping a bale. I obviously didn’t squeeze it hard enough with the forks,” said Tommi.

Marcus was unsure of his skills even before the event: “I’ve never really done much front-loader work, so we’ll see what happens.” A clean performance produced a time of 4.39.

Last up was Johanna, who managed a time of 6.57. “I haven’t had to do this kind of work with a tractor in a long time,” admitted Johanna.

Tenths-of-seconds determine go-carting results

The last event of the day was go-carting. The competition included an eight-minute timed session, during which the fastest lap determined the winner. The result was extremely close, with only tenths-of-seconds separating the three drivers. Fastest was Tommi, clocking 38.67 seconds. Second was Marcus, with a 38.81. Johanna was not far behind the rally champions, clocking 39.18 and placing third.

The final results were that Tommi won every event and thus the tractor triathlon championship. Marcus Grönholm was second and Johanna Herlevi third. Despite their hectic schedules, the rally drivers admitted to having a great day. “This was great fun – a real change from our normal competition,” said Marcus.


Tractor Triathlon
13.8. 2003 Alahärmä

1. Tommi Mäkinen, 94.70, FP, 72.00
2. Johanna Herlevi, 60.30, FP, 63.80
3. Marcus Grönholm, 40.43, FP, -

1. Tommi Mäkinen 4.06
2. Marcus Grönholm 4.39
3. Johanna Herlevi 6.57

1. Tommi Mäkinen 38.67
2. Marcus Grönholm 38.81
3. Johanna Herlevi 39.18

Final results
1. Tommi Mäkinen
2. Marcus Grönholm
3. Johanna Herlevi

292 1The champions are ready for the go-carting track.

Valtra got silver and bronze in Euro cup in Danmark

271 1Pekka Herlevi was both satisfied with silver medal, but dissapointed with technical problems of Matti´s tractor.
Situation in Tractor pulling Euro cup is exciting, when there is one more competition left in the cup. Valtra´s Pekka Herlevi won silver and Johanna Herlevi bronze in Euro cup competition in 26th July in Herning, Danmark. Matti Herlevi was tenth because of the mechanical problems. Matti was not at all able to participate in pull off because of the mechanical failure on the second round.
- The track was not good for our team. Our tyres didn´t get a good grip, said Matti.

Despite of the silver and bronze medals the atmosphere after the competition was a little bit disappointed. The team won two medals, but the failure of the Matti´s tractor and loosing the gold medal was a disappointment.
- The race was very tight, there was only differences of tens of centimeters, said Johanna.

The final competition of Euro cup at the end of September in Luxemburg will be exciting. Johanna leads the Euro cup with her Doris, but John Nicholson got just as many points with his Rough Justice. Matti has two points less than Johanna and John and there are seven drivers who can still win the whole Euro cup.

Results Herning, Danmark:
1) Rough Justice, Martin Nicholson 79,60
2) Sigma Power, Pekka Herlevi 78,21
3) Doris, Johanna Herlevi 76,81...
10) Caesar, Matti Herlevi full pull

Results in Euro cup after two out of three competitions:
1-2) Doris, Johanna Herlevi ja Rough Justice, John Nicholson 32 points
3) Sigma Power, Pekka Herlevi 30 points
4) John Deere, Rasmus Höjen 28 points
5) Blue Bambino, Niels Damgaard 21
6) Bukke Bruse, Jakob Jensen 13
7) Caesar, Matti Herlevi 11

Finnish Champion remains in the Herlevi family


Johanna took the title from his father Pekka

Since the Eurocup opening in Bernay, France Johanna has been unbeatable in pro stock 3,5 t class.
Johanna already clinched her victory at Finnish Championship series in Alahärmä June 26th. Brother Matti came second and father Pekka was third in the competition. Their final positions in Finnish Championship series was not confirmed yet, but was left to be sealed in the last round of FC in Tyrnävä in July 20th.

Main goal at European Championships

The Valtra Shell pulling team is aiming at European Tractor Pulling Championships, which will be driven in Alahärmä in September 6th and 7th. Therefore Johanna, Matti and Pekka tested the track and the tractors also in the pro stock 4,5 t class. Herlevis finished the class in same order - Johanna continues winning.
- doesn’t bother me, answers delighted Johanna back for all wonderings.

European Championships arrangements going strongly

Sunday’s competition was a good final rehearsal for EC. The organising committee has worked on the arena all along the winter.
- This has been a new challenge for us, but everything is going as planned. Now we take couple of days off before starting the spurt towards the EC weekend, says the front man Heikki Lehtinen.