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250cc, 500cc, 350cc, 50cc

Date de naissance


Lieu de naissance



The Finnish student resorted to using several bank loans to finance himself at the start of his career, although these loans had been intended for his schooling it became apparent Saarinen excelled outside the classroom. Starting off as a Speedway specialist and competing in a variety of ice races, Jarno Saarinen made his World Championship debut in 1970 in the 50cc and 250cc categories.
The young Finn’s rise was meteoric, in 1971 he took his first 350cc victory in the Czechoslovakia GP and in that same season took to the top step of the podium in the final 250cc race of the year in Spain. That year he would finish runner up in the 350cc class and take third overall in the 250cc category, in both cases mounted on a Yamaha.
Only a year later came his first, and lone, world title, remaining with Yamaha to bring the three tuning forks to the top of the 250cc class. Four wins and five podium finishes would be enough to secure victory by a single point over Renzo Pasolini, a rival whose fate would be closely linked to Saarinen for tragic reasons. In the 350cc class Saarinen got second place, only surpassed by the Italian Giacomo Agostini.
1973 looked to be another strong year for Saarinen, he won the first three 250cc races on the calendar in France, Austria and Germany. Moreover, he managed to win the first two races of the 500cc class on the new Yamaha four-cylinder engine, only a broken chain preventing him from contesting victory with Agostini at the third race in Hockenheim. Saarinen did not start the fourth race on the calendar, the infamous Tourist Trophy, as many of the Grand Prix riders boycotted the Isle of Man event due to the dangers of the track. However, the next race would be marked forever in the history of the World Championship as ‘the tragedy of Monza’.
During the first lap of the 250cc race at the Italian circuit the leading group, composed of several riders, approached the ‘Curvone’ and a rapid fall saw Renzo Pasolini lose his life on the spot. Saarinen was then involved in the crash that followed the fall of Pasolini and was also killed instantly. Thus ended the life of one of the most promising and most naturally talented riders of the era, a pilot whose aggressive riding style came from his off-road racing experience and inspired such prominent figures such as triple 500cc world champion Kenny Roberts Snr.