He started in rallies in 1970 and made his WRC debut in 1974. He was National Rally Champion in Great Britain in 1976 and 1978 led by Peter Bryant and David Richards respectively. In 1977 he became a frequent presence in the WRC events, driving an Ford Escort RS 1800. As early as 1979, he signed for the Rothmans Rally Team. In 1980 he achieved his first WRC victory at the wheel of the RS 1800 during the Greek Rally and became the next World Champion the following year. He emphasized for his co-driver from 1979 to 1980, a man named David Richards who would become the head of Prodrive, one of the most important men in the world of motorsport. In 1982, Vatanen did not defend his title competing in only 3 races of the World Rally Championship. Already in 1984, the Finnish contract signed to guide a Peugeot 205 T16 of the Peugeot factory team. In the presentation of the French car with 520 hp Vatanen said, “this car is a lot for me”. Maybe he said it because he was aware of the monstrosity of that car, something that not everyone noticed immediately … From the 1984 Finland Rally to the Swedish Rally the following year, Vatanen won a total of 5 victories in the WRC events. In 1985, during an Argentine Rally, he suffered an accidental accident with 205. He was between life and death and only a year and a half later he returned to the motor sport, unfortunately outside the WRC. He then went on to compete in the Paris-Dakar Rally, winning Peugeot in 1987, 1989 and 1990 and with Citroën in 1991. In addition to the rallies, he achieved success at the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb, which won with the Peugeot 405 T16, based on No 205 T16 after Group B was banned. He then developed an interest in politics and in 1999 was elected to the European Parliament by winning re-election in 2004. His passion for Rally Portugal and his audience is more than enough reason to support Durão Barroso. His hunger in the rally did not end and he achieved the Dakar Rally in 2003 for Nissan that finished in seventh place. That same year he made the Rally Finland with a 206 WRC of Bozian Racing, finishing 11th. In 2004 and 2005 he returned to the Dakar Rally with Nissan and in 2007 with Volkswagen. His biography, “Every Second Counts,” was published in 1988 and quickly became a sales hit.