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Rally legend Hannu Mikkola dies aged 78

Credits: WRC

Rally Legend Hannu Mikkola has passed away at the age of 78 after a long battle with cancer.

The news started spreading last night but it was his son Vesa who confirmed Hannu’s passing this morning.

“We’ve lost my father, Hannu, due to cancer this weekend. People knew him as a legend of rallies who marked the start of the golden years of the sport,” Vesa said.

“For me, he was my dad, an awesome dad. Always humble, loving, and genuine. Also a loving grandfather to my two sons. Rest in peace, dad,” he concluded.

The team at ASN Motorsports extends their sincere condolences to the family and friends of Hannu Mikkola.

WRC’s obituary reads:

After making his name driving a series of Ford Escorts, Mikkola was at the forefront of the four-wheel-drive revolution in world rallying and claimed the title in an Audi Quattro – the first for an all-wheel-drive car in FIA World Rally Championship history.

He won Finland’s WRC counter, the 1000 Lakes Rally, on seven occasions and remains tied at the top of the event’s honors list with fellow countryman Marcus Grönholm.

Mikkola was born in May 1942 and started his career on home country rallies in a series of Volvo cars. He scored his first win at the Pohjala Ralli in 1966 and took his first 1000 Lakes success two years later in an Escort Twin Cam.

Credits: WRC

In 1970 Mikkola and Gunnar Palm scored a famous victory in the London to Mexico World Cup Rally and two years afterward the pair became the first overseas winners of the East African Safari Rally. His first WRC victory was achieved on home territory in 1974.

He drove with a series of different manufacturers during the mid-1970s but it was at Ford that he made his name in the WRC. Partnered by Arne Hertz, he helped the Blue Oval win the manufacturers’ title in 1979, but missed out on the drivers’ crown by just one point.

A move to Audi transformed Mikkola’s career. He piloted a Quattro to two WRC wins in both 1981 and 1982 before clinching the drivers’ world title the following season with four victories in a Group B Quattro A2.

Credits: WRC

Mikkola achieved his final world rally win in Kenya in 1987, after which he moved to Mazda before departing the WRC on a full-time basis in 1991. He made 123 WRC starts and continued to compete as a guest driver at a variety of events until 2017.

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