- May 24, 1942
- Not Active
Hannu Olavi Mikkola is one of the many famous rally drivers from Finland and 1983 World Rally Championship title winner.
He was born on 24th of May 1942 in Joensuu, a town in North Karelia region in Eastern Finland. The beginning of his rally career was in 1963 when he has competed at the local level, driving a Volvo PV544. Over the years, Mikkola started to compete at the international level and he was already very experienced when he has entered World Rally Championship in 1973, in Monte Carlo.
The following year Hannu scored his first win, in the 24th edition of the 1000 Lakes rally in Finland, driving a Ford Escort RS1600. For the second victory in WRC, he had to wait until 1975 when he was the fastest at Rallye du Maroc, this time driving a Peugeot 504, with Jean Todt as his navigator. The same year Mikkola again triumphed at his home rally, driving a Toyota Corolla.
In 1977, Hannu Mikkola joined the forces with Swedish co-driver Arne Hertz what will become a long and fruitful partnership. In 1978, they became British Rally Championship winners and the winner of the WRC round in Wales. That was their first year in Ford Escort 1800 which proved to be a very successful car as they won three WRC events in 1979 – In Portugal, New Zealand, Ivory Coast and again in Wales. Unfortunately, Mikkola missed winning the championship title after Bjorn Waldegard earned a point more.
Hannu Mikkola again was the WRC runner-up in 1980, this time losing to Walter Rohrl. For the following campaign, he was given a chance to drive legendary Audi Quattro for the factory team. He was near to win the first event with a new car, Monte Carlo rally, but later in the season, he triumphed in Sweden and Wales to finish third in the championship. The year of 1982 was almost the same as the previous one. Hannu Mikkola again was third in the championship and again had two rally wins in his books, in Finland and, you guess, in Wales.
Finally, in 1983, he finally managed to reach the top of the WRC standings in 1983. With improved versions of Audi Quattro, Mikkola scored four victories – in Sweden, Portugal, Argentina, and Finland, and also thrice took second places – in Kenya, Ivory Coast, and Wales. That was a great success, biggest in his long career and first WRC Drivers' championship title for Audi.
Mikkola stayed with Audi but failed to defend his crown in 1984 but still did a great and finished as the championship runner-up. That year he has won Rally of Portugal after which had to wait three years for a new triumph in the WRC. The Finn stayed with Audi until 1987 when he has scored his last WRC victory in Kenya.
After the end of 1987 campaign, Mikkola switched to Mazda and stayed with it until the end of his full-time WRC career. He had some solid results with a Japanese manufacturer, but that wasn’t any near to the previous successes. Hannu sporadically appeared in selected WRC events over the years but without too much success.
After the retirement from the World Rally Championship, Mikkola admitted that he had three favorite events. In Kenya, he enjoyed because of the adventurous side of the event, in Wales, he liked a fact that there is no practice before the race while 1000 Lakes rally he liked because he has won it seven times.
More luck he had in some exhibition rally events, like the marathon race from London to Mexico. In 1995, he has won the event which was organized to celebrate 25 anniversary of 1970 race which also has been won by Mikkola. Five years later, the Finn also took a part in London – Sydney marathon rally driving his old Ford Escort RS1600 from 1968. Over the years, he also took a part in many Legend stars rally events.
For his achievements, Hannu Mikkola was inducted into the Rally Hall of Fame in in 2011, alongside his old rival Walter Rohrl. During his long career, Mikkola has competed in 123 WRC events, scored more than 650 stage wins, 18 rally wins and 44 podium finishes.
Mikkola lives between his homes in Finland and Palm Beach. He still follows rally events despite calling them a bit boring and enjoys driving a 1972 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5, the first car he has bought by the money earned from racing.