Date of Birth:24 May 42
FIA Championship Titles:1983
WRC Rally Starts:123
WRC Rally Wins:18
Hannu Mikkola left it late to become world rally champion. Prior to his title-winning season in 1983 getting underway, the Finn had already told his bosses at Audi that he wanted to contest fewer events from 1984 onwards, such was desire to spend more time with his young family: his programme in 1983 would keep him on the road for 285 days.
However, had Mikkola failed to net rallying’s biggest prize then he’d still have embarked on the twilight years of his career satisfied that he’d achieved what he set out to do when he tackled his first rally, in a Volvo, back in 1963. As far as Mikkola was concerned winning the Finnish title and 1000 Lakes Rally represented mission accomplished. Everything else was just a bonus.
In a career that spanned 31 years there were plenty of bonuses: he won 18 world championship rallies, was runner-up to Bjorn Waldegard in the battle for the first drivers’ crown in 1979, triumphed on the 1000 Lakes Rally on seven occasions, claimed victory on the gruelling London-Mexico World Cup Rally in 1970 and the rerun in 1995 and helped to develop Audi’s dominant Quattro model.
He was even immortalised in Half Man, Half Biscuit’s 1985 song Architecture and Morality, Ted and Alice: “The wonderful dexterity of Hannu Mikkola makes me want to shake the hands with the whole of Finland.”
Mikkola’s most successful period in rallying followed his alliance with Swedish co-driver Arne Hertz in 1977, which lasted until the end of the 1990 season. After claiming the British title in 1978 they won their first WRC round together in Great Britain that season and were a dominant force in the world championship for almost a decade.
Although he scaled down his competitive outings from the mid-1980s, Mikkola was a winner with Audi on the Safari Rally in 1987 - his last in the WRC - and was a factory Mazda driver from 1988 until 1991.
He took part in his final WRC event in Finland in 1993, finishing seventh overall in a Toyota. Ad hoc appearances on classic events have followed although his outing on the 2008 Colin McRae Forest Stages remains his last competitive stage rally.
Mikkola now enjoys his retirement by spending a half a year living in Florida and six months at his lakeside home in the suburbs of Helsinki.