Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by autohabit, Nov 9, 2018.
1981 Alpine Renault V6
As most of you will know by now, we sadly lost one of the greatest rally drivers ever these last few days, when Hannu Mikkola passed away at the age of 78 from cancer.
He was one of the original 'Flying Finns'
Early days with Volvo in the mid 1960s
With the 1968 Eupopean Raly Champion Pauli Toivonen, Hannu would go on to compete against Pauli's son Henri
Mikkola's big break came in 1968 with a win on his home event, the 1000 Lakes Rally, an event he would win an incredible 7 times
1975, Mikkola won the 1000 Lakes in this somewhat unfancied Toyota, I believe this may have been Toyota's first ever WRC win
Mikkola and Waldergard, Sweden 1978, showing who really invented drifting!
Winning the '78 RAC
When Ford officially withdrew from rallying at the end of 1979, Hannu carried on running semi works outings with David Sutton, but he also took a few drives for Mercedes, who were starting to take a serious interest in rallying back then
Many thought Hannu was crazy switching to an unknown team with a 4WD drive car, when he signed for Audi in 1980, but he was smart, he'd done his homework. I remember seeing an interview with him many years later, when he looked back to the first event with the Audi Quattro, the 1981 Monte Carlo Rally, the first stage was a snowy, mainly uphill 9 mile stage, the car in front was the Stratos of 1979 Monte winner Bernard Darniche, halfway through the stage, Mikkola caught and passed the Lancia, at the end of the first stage, his fellow Finn, Ari Vatanen pulled up alongside and said "We'd been betting that you would be quickest, you were 10 seconds faster than the next quickest car!" Hannu nodded and said "Yes, you are right" but he was actually 1 minute and 10 seconds faster than anyone, and he knew it! That was a changing of the guard moment in rallying.
1981 Team Audi, with teammate Mouton
It took a while to get the Quattro relaible enough to win the title, Mikkola finally won the World Rally Championship in 1983, at the age of 41, he remains the oldest champion to this day
For 1984, Audi set up a superteam - Mouton, Blomqvist, Rohrl & Mikkola
For anybody who ever saw it, the Group B Quattro was a sight to behold in full flight. Mikkola 1984 Acropolis
Finland '84. Hannu proving why he was still one of the Flying Finns
Mikkola's last event in a Group B Audi was the 1986 Monte Carlo, he took the winged wonder to 3rd place
A switch to Group A in 1987 brought Hannu his final WRC win on the Safari
1987 Acropolis, Hannu's 100th WRC start, he was the first driver to reach this milestone
Audi finally withdrew from rallying at the end of 1987, and Hannu made the switch to Mazda, the car was underpowered and not always so relaible, he did come very close to winning the 1988 RAC Rally, but was blinded by the low British winter sun, and went off the road. He remained with Mazda until the end of 1991
Even into his 50s, Hannu was still in demand to give his opinion on the latest raly cars
1993 Sweden - Hannu in a Subaru? Yes, a one off outing with Prodrive in the Legacy
Mikkola's final WRC works outing came on the 1993 1000 Lakes with Toyota, where he finished in a respectable 7th place. By now, he was 51 years old. It was time for a well earned retirement, which he spent in the USA and Finland.