Date of Birth:02 Apr 59
FIA Championship Titles:1986, 1987, 1991, 1993
WRC Rally Starts:162
WRC Rally Wins:23
The first four-time World Rally Champion, Juha Kankkunen won 23 rallies in a distinguished 23 year WRC career which included a variety of cars and teams. Born in Finland in 1959, Kankkunen grew up in Laukaa, close to Jyvaskyla, the home town of the 1000 Lakes Rally - the event on which he made his competitive debut in 1979.
Early in his career Kankkunen was mentored by Finnish WRC star, Timo Makinen, a friend of his fathers and someone who tested in Laukaa every year before the 1000 Lakes. With Makinen’s guidance, and financial backing from renowned Finnish talent scout Timo Jouhki, Kankkunen had the perfect chance to learn his craft.
His performance on two WRC rallies in 1982 persuaded Toyota Finland to lend him an ex Bjorn Waldegard Group 4 rally car for a number of Finnish events, and his continued success led to a works team entry in a Celica TCT at the 1983 1000 Lakes. He finished sixth, and began a two-year association with Toyota, during which he won his first rally, the 1985 Safari, in the Celica. A move to Peugeot followed in 1986 and, after a dominant season in the Group B 205 Turbo 16 E2, he became Drivers’ Champion. The following year he moved to Lancia and successfully defended his title, taking victory this time with the Group A Delta HF 4WD.
Kankkunen moved to Toyota Team Europe in 1988, winning with the Celica GT-Four in 1989, before returning to Lancia in 1990 and helping the Italian company to a third successive manufacturers’ title. The next year was Kankkunen’s most successful with Lancia, and with the Delta Integrale 16V he became the first man to win three Drivers’ championships.
Following Lancia’s withdrawal from the WRC, Kankkunen returned to Toyota in 1993 and crushed the opposition in his Celica Turbo 4WD, securing an unprecedented fourth Drivers’ title and becoming the most successful driver in the history of the WRC. A
fter leaving Toyota after the end of the 1996 season Kankkunen proved a consistent points scorer for the Ford, Subaru and Hyundai factory teams. Fittingly, his last WRC win before retirement came at home, on the 1999 Rally Finland.