by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 124
WRC feature >> Finland plays host to the World Rally Championship as it enters the second half of the season, and with it come memories of legendary drivers and tense competition. When it comes to world championship statistics, drivers of the generation of Hannu Mikkola fall between two stools, because so many of their greatest achievements happened before the start of the championship, in 1973, and are less firmly etched into the records. Hannu Mikkola had many such successes, like winning the amazing London-Mexico marathon in 1970 and scoring a 1000 Lakes hat-trick in 1968-1970. Marcus Gronholm is fresh in the mind as a seven-times winner of Finland’s most celebrated rally, but few recall that Mikkola won the event seven times as well. In this story Hannu tells us about what was, for him, his most unforgettable victory, his last win in the ‘Jyvaskylan Grand Prix’ and the turning point towards his greatest achievement of all, winning the world title at the record old-age of 41. Finland is a place of much daring-do in rallysport, but this tale seems to top the lot! ... “I suppose I had three favourite events: the 1000 Lakes in Finland, the RAC in Great Britain and the Safari in Kenya. “I liked these three very much for different reasons. In the case of the 1000 Lakes it was my country’s event and it was always the fastest rally. On this event you have to be really quick and accurate, fast and brave to drive at the required speed. “ The 1983 1000 Lakes Rally was significant not only because of what happened on that event, but personally because of the circumstances in my career. It was my third full season with Audi, I was already 41 and had for some time been trying to win the World Championship but things never went in the right pattern. So often I had a good half year and then the other six months nothing. “I got good results in the autumn and then the following spring but never in a spring and autumn of the same year! 1983 started well and we were in a good position after four rallies but then it started to go wrong again, retiring in Corsica, Greece and New Zealand. I won in Argentina but I needed a good result in Finland to get my championship hopes back on course again. It had already been a busy season with a lot of pressure and I felt quite tired already at that time but I was confident that I could do a good result because I knew the roads and I had already done the event many times”. It immediately seemed that another disaster was going to happen: “On the first stage, on the first jump, the gearbox broke and we had to change this on a short road section after that. Time penalties dropped me immediately nearly two minutes behind the leaders. After Stage 2 we were in 143rd position, 1m51s behind Stig Blomqvist! Even in those days, two minutes on the 1000 Lakes was in a sense too much, but we wanted to win and so I really started to fight! “I told Arne Hertz, my co-driver, ‘Now we do everything we can, we have nothing to lose but a lot to win.’ I went flat out all the time and when we came to the first night rest halt I was getting closer, seventh overall and 93 seconds behind the leader, Markku Alen in his Lancia. We were getting quite confident and reckoned maybe we could catch up. “ When we started the very long second part of the rally we had problems with the fuelling system. Our teammate Michele Mouton already lost a lot of time with this problem and in fact her car caught fire. Then fuel started to leak on our car as well. The problem was there was no time to fix it properly. My favourite mechanic patched things up and got ready to replace it all later on. ‘Patching up’ is not the normal Audi way at all, but it did the job.