World news – Rally legend Hannu Mikkola dies at the age of 78

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Hannu Mikkola, 1983 world rally champion and widely regarded as one of the greatest rally drivers of all time, died at the age of 78.

“We lost my father Hannu to cancer this weekend. Most knew him as the great rally man who ushered in the golden years of the sport, ”his son Vesa told the BBC.

Mikkola first became famous at national rallies in his home country of Finland, scoring 1974 with a Ford Escort RS 1600 his first World Rally victory on home soil at the 1000 Lakes Rally – an event he won seven times. In 1979 he missed the WRC driver’s crown with Ford by only one point and was largely responsible for the Blue Oval securing the manufacturers’ title that year. Mikkola switched to the Audi factory team for the 1981 season and achieved his greatest successes, including a title winning season in 1983, in which he scored four victories and was the first driver to win the world championship with an all-wheel drive car.

Mikkola achieved his last WRC victory in 1987 in Kenya – his last season at Audi – together with his long-time Swedish co-driver Arne Hertz, with whom he achieved all but three of his 18 series victories. He remained a regular in the World Championship until 1991, although he continued to appear as a guest driver in rally events until 2017, including the 2008 Scottish Rally (pictured above), where he took part in a special stage in tribute to another legend of the sport, Colin McRae, who died last year.

« Really sad to hear the news about Hannu Mikkola – he was a legend, a real gentleman, a real champion and a great father to great children, » wrote his rally colleague Petter Solberg on Twitter. “I would like to express my condolences to his family and friends. REST IN PEACE. « 

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