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GP Week : Issue 66
SIXTY-FOUR year-old Finnish rally driver Pentti Airikkala died on 30 September in Britain after a long illness. Although an active rally driver for nearly 25 years on a private and professional basis, he finally achieved his ultimate goal, winning a world championship rally, the RAC Rally in 1989. That victory cemented his credentials as a top line driver an d set him on a successful business course running a specialist rally driving school, in which he advocated left-foot braking techniques. Airikkala's victory on the 1990 RAC Rally in an official Mitsubishi Galant VR4 was an extraordinary story. He had been driving a Group N Galant in British championship rallies that year but the works Group A entries for the final round of the championship had been earmarked for Ari Vatanen and Mikael Ericsson. Then the services of Ericsson, who had won the 1000 Lakes Rally for Mitsubishi were demanded by Lancia and the second Mitsubishi seat became vacant. Lancia later withdrew their entries for the British event but the Airikkala was already confirmed as the driver. Toyota cars led the event for 52 of the 55 stages, before Carlos Sainz was delayed by a broken propshaft, and so for the most important three stages, the 44 year old Airikkala was leading. It was the final time that a world championship rally had been run on secret routes. The following year Airikkala drove for the Ford works team, but his professional career ended on the RAC Rally when he crashed and suffered an injury which limited the movement of a shoulder. Apart from one final appearance in 2003 on the RAC Rally, he did not compete in top level rallying again. For one of Finland's most important rally drivers, Airikkala's list of successes was surprisingly small, but his influence extended well beyond his activities on rallies. He gave competition driving technique tuition to an incredible number of drivers who became champions in their own right, including world champion Richard Burns. Various Formula 1 and NASCAR drivers also took advantage of his training ideas. He also helped sponsor and manage 17 year- old Jari-Matti Latvala on his first world championship appearances. VALE: Pentti Airikkala AUSTRALIAN Subaru driver Cody Crocker has won the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship for the fourth successive time, by clinching the 2009 series with one event still to go. He led the very hot two-day Rally Indonesia from start to finish, heading Japanese Mitsubishi Evo IX driver Katsuhiko Taguchi, while in third place came Crocker's teammate, New Zealander Emma Gilmour. Indonesian drivers took the next three places. Mitsubishi Evo X drivers suffered many problems: Hiroshi Yanagisama had gearbox troubles, fellow Japanese driver Yuya Sumiyawa had steering and gearbox problems, Gaurav Gill lost time with a broken turbocharger pipe and then had gearbox failure as well. Gill continued on Day 2 and scored fastest times on four of the six remaining stages. This was the second outing for the official APRC Proton Satria Neo team, this time with Alister McRae behind the wheel. After lying fourth in the early stages his car impacted a rock and the damage stopped him. The car was repaired and restarted on Day 2 but he then retired for good with power steering failure. Crocker wins fourth APac title Images used in GPWEEK are shot by the photo-artists at Sutton Images. Posters available of any shot – CLICK HERE for more information Interested in Aussie V8 Supercars? CLICK HERE to access Australasian Motorsport eNews ... WRC news >> 17