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GP Week : Issue 124
WRC feature >> “One of our trusted mechanics opened the bonnet and checked the turbo pipes really carefully, and noticed there was a leak no bigger than a needle hole. It wasn’t leaking enough to drop the turbo pressure, but it was enough to stop the engine responding quickly. He changed it and from then on it was a completely different world. The car was flying once again. When we reached Jamsa in the morning for the final breakfast halt I was 24 seconds behind Stig. We had five stages to go and Markku Alen was already 13 seconds behind me. “The next stage was Vaheri, and I have to say I had tears in my eyes when I came to the finish. It went just so fantastically. It was a 8.66 kilometre long stage and it took 4m24s to drive, so the average speed was almost 120kph and immediately we were eight seconds faster than Stig and nine than Markku. It didn’t sound a huge difference but over such a short stage it was a lot and I thought maybe we could win this rally after all! “But it wasn’t over even now. With two stages to go the waste-gate failed and I had to regulate the pressure with the throttle, for fear of blowing the engine completely. But still I was quite a lot quicker than others, and I passed Stig into the lead again on that one. I drove the last final stage without any turbo pressure control, came to the finish and won the rally! “I think it was the hardest ever drive of my rally career. It was the first time I could see the light at the end of the championship tunnel, but it still wasn’t over. “I went on to retire in Sanremo and it wasn’t until the final round of the season, in Britain, that I was finally the champion. “My memor y from Finland was just how hard it can be to collect yourself again after having problems and to fight, fight, fight all the time”. Did Blomqvist make it easier in the later stages for Mikkola to win? Was this a case of team orders? Nobody knows, but for certain in those days before split timing and poor communications there would have been very little room for tactical manoeuvres because Alen was always very close behind. Audi’s 1-2 result on this event was critical as the manufacturers’ title was very closely fought, with Lancia finally beating Audi by only two points at the end of the season. Blomqvist had supported Mikkola through the season and finally got a victory on the final round, the RAC Rally and the following year himself became the World Champion. 41