- June 26, 1946
- Fia World Rallycross Championship
- Eklund Motorsport
Per Eklund (nicknamed Pekka) is a Swedish rally and rallycross driver who is active in the motorsport since the 1970s. He recorded more than eighty starts in the World Rally Championship, scoring one victory and thirteen WRC podiums. His only WRC win was at 1976 Rally Sweden in a Saab 96 V4. In rallycross, Eklund participated mostly in the European Rallycross Championship, winning the championship title in 1999 while driving Saab 9-3 T16.
In recent years, Eklund is most active through his team Eklund Motorsport, running cars in the European and World Rallycross Championship. Eklund himself recorded two World RX starts in 2014 and 2015.
Starting to race in the 1960s and he's still active
Per Torsten Eklund was born on June 21, 1946, in Skönnerud in Swedish county of Värmland. He started his motorsport career in rallying shortly after his 18th birthday when he could get a drivers license. Prior to that, he was a co-driver/navigator for his father Torsten and his brother Lars.
Eklund competed mostly in Swedish and Norwegian national events. His very first competition car was his father's Volvo PV 544. The first car which he owned himself was a used 1955 Volkswagen. His second car was a Saab 93 with a two stroke motor. In 1967, he bought a new Saab 96 V4 directly from the Saab factory in Trollhättan. In 1969, he recorded his first international event, participating at RAC Rally, which was a part of the European Rally Championship.
Saab factory driver since 1970
Eklund was educated driving instructor and he gets a job in Saab, becoming the factory driver from 1970. His school colleague in the Kvinnersta Folkhögskola was Stig Blomqvist, who was later his teammate in various occasions.
In 1970, Eklund participated for the first time at the International Swedish Rally, which was a part of the International Championship for Manufacturers (WRC was established in 1973). He retired due to engine failure on his Saab 96 V4. Two years later, he managed to finish the Swedish Rally, taking 8th place. In the same year, he achieved his first podium in a major rally, finishing third Internationale Österreichische Alpenfahrt.
European Rallycross Championship entrant from the beginning
Parallel to his rally career in the early 1970s, Eklund also participated in rallycross races. He debuted in rallycross in 1969 in Netherlands. In October 1971, he won the first ever Swedish rallycross event at Hedemora.
In 1973, when the European Rallycross Championship was established, Eklund competed with Saab 96 V4 Turbo and finished 7th in the points. A year later, he was fourth. He participated occasionally in the championship until 1978.
Two podiums in the inaugural WRC season
In 1973, the World Rally Championship was also inaugurated. Eklund participated in four WRC events, scoring his maiden WRC podium at 1973 Swedish Rally, driving a Saab 96 V4. The winner was his teammate Stig Blomqvist.
Later in the season, Eklund recorded two DNFs at Rally of 1000 Lakes and RAC Rally. The second WRC podium came at Int. Österreichische Alpenfahrt, where he finished third behind Achim Warmbold (BMW) and Bernard Darniche (Alpine-Renault).
First and only WRC victory at 1976 Swedish Rally
In the following years, Eklund participated in selected ERC and WRC events, gaining some success. He was first at 1974 Jämt Rallyt (ERC) and fourth at 1975 Rally of 1000 Lakes. And then, in February 1976, he became the WRC winner at Swedish Rally. His navigator in the #4 Saab 96 V4 was Björn Cederberg. Eklund won a rally ahead of Stig Blomqvist (Saab) and Anders Kulläng (Opel).
Eklund's other notable results in the late 1970s were 2nd place at 1976 München-Wien-Budapest Rallye, fourth place at 1978 Rally of 1000 Lakes (with Porsche Carrera) or 3rd place at 1979 RAC MSA Scottish Rally.
Six different rally cars in 1979
After Saab slowed down his rally involvement, Eklund was using many different cars in races. In 1979, he changed six cars during a season: Saab 99 Turbo, Triumph TR7 V8, Fiat Ritmo 75, Porsche Carrera, Fiat 131 Abarth and Volkswagen Golf GTI. Golf was his victorious car at Sachs Baltic Rally (ERC).
The situation was similar in 1980 when Eklund was driving five different rally cars: Volkswagen Golf GTI, Datsun 160J, Triumph TR7 V8, Toyota Corolla and Toyota Celica 2000 GT. Driving a Triumph, he finished 3rd at Rally of 1000 Lakes, behind Markku Alen (Fiat) and Ari Vatanen (Ford).
Joining Toyota Team Europe in 1981
In 1981, Eklund started a season with VW Golf (Rallye Monte-Carlo) and Porsche 911 SC (Rally Sweden) but after that, he joined Toyota Team Europe to drive Celica 2000 GT in the European and World championships.
The highlight of the season was the second place at Rallye Cote d'Ivoire, behind Datsun's Timo Salonen. It was Eklund's only WRC podium in 1981 and he finished 10th in the final standings. Other notable results were 6th place at RAC Rally and 6th place at Tour de Corse.
Fifth place in the 1982 World Rally Championship
In 1982, Eklund started WRC season driving privately-entered Saab 99 Turbo at Swedish Rally, finishing fourth. For the rest of the season, he was driving Toyota Celica 2000 GT, except at Rally Finland (Porsche 911 SC) and Rally Sanremo (VW Golf).
He scored three WRC podiums with Toyota, in Portugal, New Zealand and Cote d'Ivoire, to finish fifth in the final standings. It remained his career-best result in the World Rally Championship.
WRC podiums with Toyota and Audi
In 1983, Eklund was driving mostly for Toyota Team Great Britain, first a Toyota Corolla GT and then a Toyota Celica Twincam Turbo. He was third at Rally Cote d'Ivoire, what was his only WRC podium that season. He also drove Audi Quattro at 1000 Lakes Rally, finishing fourth, but also a Saab 99 Turbo at Swedish Rally, not finishing the race.
In 1984, he was combining again between Toyota and Audi. He scored two WRC podiums, finishing third at Swedish Rally with Audi Quattro and third at RAC Rally with Toyota Celica TCT. At the end of the WRC season, he was 7th in the points.
In 1985, Eklund participated in three WRC events with Audi Quattro (Sweden 5th, Finland 6th, GB 4th), spending the rest of the season with Toyota in the British and European championships.
Driving an MG Metro 6R4 in the last Group B season
In 1986, which was the last season of Group B rally cars, Eklund was driving MG Metro 6R4 entered by factory Austin Rover World Rally Team or private Clarion Team Europe. He participated in three WRC and five ERC events.
He scored two podiums in ERC events in Germany, ending a year with seventh-place finishes at 1000 Lakes Rally and RAC Rally.
Podium with Nissan at 1988 Safari Rally
In 1987, Eklund was driving four different cars in the WRC and other international events: Subaru RX Turbo, Audi Coupe Quattro, Peugeot 205 GTI and Nissan 200 SX. His best WRC result was fourth place at Rally Finland, driving Audi Coupe Quattro for Clarion Team Europe.
He and Dave Whittock finished fifth at Safari Rally in a Subaru RX Turbo. A year later, at 1988 Safari Rally, they returned with Nissan 200 SX to finish in the third place, behind Miki Biasion (Lancia) and Mike Kirkland (Nissan).
Last WRC podium at 1989 Swedish Rally
Eklund was driving Lancia Delta HF 4WD at 1988 Swedish Rally but failed to finish. Next year, he returned with improved Lancia Delta Integrale and finished in the second place, behind Ingvar Carlsson (Mazda). It was Eklund's 13th and last WRC podium in a career.
Later in the season, he participated in five more WRC events with Nissan and Lancia, without some notable results.
Slowing rally activities, switching to rallycross
In the early 1990s, Eklund spent two more seasons in the international rallying, driving for Clarion Team Europe. In 1991, he was driving Lancia Delta Integrale 16V in two WRC events, finishing 8th at Swedish Rally. In 1992, the team switched to Subaru Legacy RS. Eklund's best result was 6th place at Swedish Rally.
In the following years, Eklund focused to a career in rallycross, occasionally participating at Swedish Rally with different cars.
Full-time Euro RX entry since 1993
Eklund returned to the European Rallycross Championship in 1990, participating only in the Swedish round with Clarion Team Europe's MG Metro 6R4. After occasional participations, Eklund entered the championship as a full-time entry in 1993, driving a Subaru Legacy Turbo.
At the end of the season 1993, he scored first ERX victory to finish fourth in the final standings. He was driving Subaru Impreza for Clarion Team Europe until 1996 when the team switched to Saab 900 Turbo.
European rallycross champion in 1999
In 1997, the first Euro RX season with Saab 900 Turbo, Eklund was sixth in the points. In the Swedish rallycross championship, he was a champion. Next year, he progressed to the second place in the European championship, losing a title to Kenneth Hansen.
In 1999, the team switched to Saab 9-3 T16 and Eklund finally became the European champion. He was among the front-runners for four more seasons, finishing in the third place in 2000 and 2001, and then being the vice-champion in 2002 and 2003. His biggest rival Kenneth Hansen was the champion six times in a row, from 2000 to 2005.
Founding Eklund Motorsport in 2006
Per Eklund was competing under Clarion Team Europe banner until 2005. In 2006, he entered a championship with his own team Eklund Motorsport. He was a full-time participant in the championship until 2009.
In 2010, at the age 64, he slowed down his activities but never stopped racing. He was entering at least one championship round every year. In 2014, he participated in German round of the inaugural World Rallycross Championship. In 2015, he returned to World RX at Swedish round, what was his last recorded international race.
Two-time winner at Pikes Peak International Hill Climb
Besides achieving success in rallying and rallycross, Per Eklund also left his mark in a history of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado, USA. He was a two-time overall winner in the one of the world's most famous hill climb races, in 2000 and 2002.
In 2000, he won the race in a Saab 9-3 Viggen 4x4, setting a time 11:21.58. It was the record time in the Open category. Two years later, he was driving Saab 9-3 in the Unlimited Class, taking an overalkl victory with a time 1:13.20.