Mikkola, a driver fond of Japan

Hannu Mikkola

Born in Joensuu, Finland in 1942. His rally career started in 1963 with a Volvo 444. His first WRC race was in 1973 at Rally Monte Carlo in a Ford Escort RS1600Mk. Mikkola finished fourth in his first WRC race, and at this point he was already a Ford factory team driver. In 1975, he changed to Toyota, then in 1978 returned again to Ford. In 1981 Mikkola drove the Audi Quattro, the machine that brought a new era into the WRC. In 1983 he won the Drivers’ Championship Title with Audi. From 1988 Mikkola drove a Mazda 323 4WD in the WRC and worked with the team until 1991. In 1993, he raced with Subaru and Toyota, these were his last races of his rally career. After retiring from racing, Mikkola has been a part of Historic Rally.

Mikkola won the 1978 RAC. He also won the British Rally Championship the same year.

Mikkola started rallying at the age of 21 in 1963 with a Volvo 444. He entered in a regional race in Finland. The next year, he drove a Simca 1500, but was not able to finish with good results. Henri Pauli Toivonen, who drove a Volkswagen Beetle at the time invited him to race in the 1000 Lakes Rally, which was back then the first round for the European Rally Championship (ERC). Unfortunately, Mikkola retired from the race due to technical problems. Mikkola was studying to be an engineer back then, thus unable to compete in rally races. However, when he raced in the Volvo 544 and 122 in 1966, he took home one victory, and ranked second overall in the Finland Championship. In 1967 he joined the Monte Carlo rally with a wildcard and drove the Fulvia with the Lancia factory team. Mikkola had been showing his speed by battling against Timo Makkinen, who was a top driver in the Finland Rally Championship.

In 1968 Mikkola competed in Rally Monte Carlo with a Nissan Fairlady. He finished ninth overall. Mikkola back then was eyes Nissan and Lancia as his team, but Nissan’s offer was faster. The contract with Nissan was limited to three rounds, so he raced with Lancia during the other rounds. In the 1000 Lakes Rally that year, he won his first victory in a Ford Escort Twin Cam. He also won the Finland Championship in a Volvo 122.

Mikkola entered the 1968 Rally Monte Carlo in a Datsun 2000 (Fairlady).

In 1969, he entered the ERC in neither Nissan nor Lancia, but in a Ford. This was before the WRC was introduced, rally racing was very popular in Europe. He continued his contract with Ford up until 1974. He also competed in races Ford did not enter, and during those times he raced in a Volvo and Peugeot. In 1970, he competed in the London-Mexico World Cup Rally in a Ford Escort 1850GT Mk.I. He drove the total of 800 km stages in only 9 hours and 7 minutes. Mikkola took home the victory.

He won the 1972 Safari Rally with a Ford Escort RS 1600.

In 1975, he competed the first half of the WRC in a Fiat and Peugeot. His co-driver was Jean Todt. His teammate at Fiat was Markku Alen. The two were very competitive, and many times Todt would tell Mikkola that “they were already doing their best” to calm him down. At the 1000 Lakes Rally, he won with a Toyota Corolla Levin TE27. He got for Toyota a precious win in one of the European rounds. Mikkola raced the RAC rally with a Celica 2000GT. Also, he raced in the Southern Cross Rally held in Australia with a Mitsubishi Lancer GSR.

He won the 1975 1000 Lakes Rally with a Toyota Corolla Levin TE27. He had commented that he is “short by 40 hp compared to the Ford” but still won the race.

He raced in the Southern Cross Rally in a wildcard and drove the Mitsubishi Lancer GSR.

In 1976, he raced the first race of the season, Monte Carlo, with Opel. However, he raced with Toyota and Peugeot through the rest of the season. There was also a change in co-drivers. Although Todt was still his main co-driver, he raced a couple of rounds with Arne Hertz. Mikkola and Hertz teamed up from 1977 all the way to 1987.

For three years in a row, Mikkola was second in the series championship for the 1978 Rally Driver’s Cup (before the WRC started the following year) and 1979 to 1980 WRC.

He competed in the 1979 Cote d’Ivoire in a Mercedes Benz 450SLC and won the race.

In 1981, Mikkola changed his team to Audi. He drove the Quattro, which introduced a new type of car to the WRC. He won Sweden and RAC. In 1982, he won the RAC again. In 1983, he won three rounds and finally won the Drivers’ Championship of the season. Mikkola stayed with the team until 1987, when he won the Safari Rally with the Group A Audi 200 Quattro. This was Mikkola’s last WRC win.

The Audi Quattro brought change to the WRC. This picture is the Audi Quattro A2 at the 1984 Acropolis.

Mikkola’s last WRC win was the 1987 Safari Rally in an Audi 200 Quattro.

In 1988, he joined the Mazda Rally Team Europe (MRTW) and drove the 1.6L Turbo 4WD Mazda 323 4Wd. He helped Mazda develop and tune the 4WD turbo machine. Since the team change to Mazda, his co-driver also changed to Christian Geistdörfer. Mazda introduced the 1.8L Turbo 4WD, 323GTX from the 1000 Lakes Rally in 1990. In 1991, Mazda withdrew their participation in the WRC. Mikkola ended his work with the factory team. However, in 1993 Mikkola raced in a couple of rounds: the 1993 Rally Sweden with a Subaru Legacy RS, the 1000 Lakes Rally with a Toyota Celica GT-FOUR ST185. Although he retired in Rally Sweden, he finished seventh in the 1000 Lakes Rally.

From there on, Mikkola has been racing in the Historic Car Rallies with machines like the Ford Escort RS.

Hannu Mikkola WRC Record of victory

Times Year Event Co-driver Car
1 1974 1000 Lakes Rally John Davenport Ford Escort RS 1600 MKI
2 1975 Rallye du Maroc Jean Todt Peugeot 504 Ti
3 1975 1000 Lakes Rally Atso Aho Toyota Corolla Levin TE27
4 1978 RAC Rally Arne Hertz Ford Escort RS 1800 MKII
5 1979 Rallye de Portugal Arne Hertz Ford Escort RS 1800 MKII
6 1979 Rally of New Zealand Arne Hertz Ford Escort RS 1800 MKII
7 1979 RAC Rally Arne Hertz Ford Escort RS 1800 MKII
8 1979 Rallye Côte d’Ivoire Arne Hertz Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC
9 1981 Swedish Rally Arne Hertz Audi Quattro
10 1981 RAC Rally Arne Hertz Audi Quattro
11 1982 1000 Lakes Rally Arne Hertz Audi Quattro
12 1982 RAC Rally Arne Hertz Audi Quattro
13 1983 Swedish Rally Arne Hertz Audi Quattro A1
14 1983 Rallye de Portugal Arne Hertz Audi Quattro A1
15 1983 Rally Argentina Arne Hertz Audi Quattro A2
16 1983 1000 Lakes Rally Arne Hertz Audi Quattro A2
17 1984 Rallye de Portugal Arne Hertz Audi Quattro A2
18 1987 Safari Rally Arne Hertz Audi 200 Quattro

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