- July 29, 1946
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There are two famous Stigs in the automotive world, and while one is Top Gear's anonymous racing driver, the other one is Sweden's rally driver and WRC champion Stig Blomqvist.
Undoubtedly, Stig Blomqvist is one of the greatest drivers in the rallying history, not only because of his 11 WRC wins and one world's title but because of his longevity in a racing world. The man, whose racing career started in 1964 and still isn't over, is delighting the motorsports fans all over the world for five decades.
Victory for 18-year-old Stig in his first rally
Born on July 29, 1946, in Swedish town Örebro, Blomqvist began his racing career as soon as he got his driver's license, at the age of 18, winning a local rally near Karlstad in his Saab 96. He appeared on the international scene in 1965, participating in the Finland's 1000 Lakes Rally, which was the round of the European Rally Championship.
First win at Swedish Rally in 1971
In the following years, he continued to drive different Saab cars in the national and international events. The first big international result came at 1970 International Swedish Rally, where he finished second, behind Bjorn Waldegard. Next year, he clinched his first international victory at the same event, driving Saab 96 V4 alongside navigator Arne Hertz. Two more great wins followed in the same season, at 1000 Lakes Rally and RAC Rally. Stig's wins helped Saab to gain second place in the 1971 International Championship for Manufacturers, behind Alpine-Renault.
Three consecutive wins at his home event
In 1972, he won the Swedish Rally one more time, again with Saab 96 V4, ahead of other two Swedish rally legends Bjorn Waldegard (Porsche 911) and Harry Kallstrom (Lancia Fulvia). In 1973, the International Championship for Manufacturers were converted into the World Rally Championship. Blomqvist won a third time in a row at Swedish Rally and this victory is counting as his first WRC win. Later in the season, he won one more big event, the Cyprus International Rally, which was the part of the European Rally Championship.
Many podiums and wins in 17 years with Saab
The long-lasting relationship with Saab ended in 1981 when Swedish manufacturer decided not to continue its involvement in racing. Until 1981, Blomqvist scored many more international wins and podiums with Saab, including two more wins at the Swedish Rally in 1977 and 1979. Other notable wins were at Boucles de Spa in 1976 and 1980.
After Arne Hertz, Stig's co-drivers were Hans Sylvan and Bjorn Cederberg. In 1979, the inaugural World Rally Championship for drivers were held. During that year Blomqvist competed in 12 events, but only in two WRC rallies. He won the Swedish Rally with Saab 99 Turbo and retired at Lombard RAC Rally, to finish 10th in the championship standings.
Saab left WRC in 1981, Stig joined Team Talbot
During 1980, Blomqvist was again mostly focused on the European Rally Championship, finishing sixth with two wins, while in the World Rally Championship he participated in only two events – in Sweden and UK. He was second at 1980 Swedish Rally and finished 16th in the WRC classification at the end of the season.
In 1981, Blomqvist and Cederberg started the season with Saab, winning at national Dalapokalen rally and finishing fifth in the Swedish Rally. His last event with Saab was the Hankiralli in Finland. For the rest of the season, he joined Team Talbot Sweden, to drive Talbot Sunbeam Lotus in three ERC and WRC events. He was second in the South Swedish Rally, eighth in the 1000 Lakes Rally and third in the Lombard RAC Rally. At the end of the season, Blomqvist was classified 13th in the WRC standings.
Blomqvist joined Audi Sport in 1982
For 1982 season, Blomqvist signed for Audi Sport, to drive the limited schedule with revolutionary Audi Quattro alongside Michele Mouton and Hannu Mikkola. He won his first event with Audi, the Swedish Rally, which was his sixth victory in the biggest rally of his homeland. In October, Blomqvist scored his first win outside Sweden, winning the Rallye Sanremo. He finished second at 1000 Lakes Rally and eighth at Lombard RAC Rally, where he competed with Talbot Sunbeam Lotus. In the 1982 WRC standings, Blomqvist finished fourth, behind Opel's Walter Rohrl and Audi teammates Mouton and Mikkola.
British Rally Champion in 1983
In 1983, Blomqvist's program was expanded to nine WRC events, still with Mikkola and Mouton as teammates. Mikkola became the world champion, ahead of Lancia's Rohrl and Markku Alen. Blomqvist was again fourth in the championship, with seven podiums and one victory, in the season-closing Lombard RAC Rally. Outside WRC, he won four races in the British Rally Championship and won the title.
1984 world champion with five wins
It was Blomqvist's turn to take the world's title in 1984. Combining two Group B monsters, the Audi Quattro A2 and Audi Sport Quattro, he clinched five wins and dominantly took the title ahead of Mikkola. Blomqvist was the winner in Sweden (seventh time), Greece, New Zealand, Argentina and Cote d'Ivoire. His African victory in November 1984 turned to be his last WRC win in a career.
1985 world championship runner-up behind Salonen
In 1985 season, Blomqvist was again the leader of Audi Sport team, but he scored no wins and finished as the championship runner-up behind Peugeot's Timo Salonen. Blomqvist best result was second place in Sweden, Greece and Finland.
Ford RS200 and Peugeot 205 T16 in 1986
Blomqvist left Audi for the season 1986, which was the last of the Group B era. During that season, he was driving two Group B monsters – Ford RS200 in four events and Peugeot 205 T16 E2 in two events. His new co-driver was Bruno Berglund. They recorded four retirements with Ford, while Peugeot was more successful, so they finished 4th in Finland and 3rd in Argentina. Blomqvist was also driving Audi Quattro one more time, winning the Hong Kong – Beijing Rally in September.
Two WRC seasons with Ford
With the demise of Group B, Blomqvist made an agreement with Ford and raced Sierra XR and Sierra RS Cosworth in the 1987 WRC season. He was sixth in Sweden and scored podiums in Finland (3rd) and UK (2nd), to finish seventh in the points. Another season with Ford followed in 1988, with Benny Melander as a co-driver. In five WRC events, his best finish was second place at Swedish Rally, where he nearly missed 8th win behind Lancia's Markku Alen.
Two-time winner in the Race of Champions
In 1989, Blomqvist was the winner of the Race of Champions, which was inaugurated a year earlier. He repeated the victory in 1990.
In 1990, he participated in two WRC events, driving Audi 200 Quattro in Sweden and Volkswagen Golf GTI at Safari Rally. At Swedish Rally, he finished fifth, in Africa he scored a sensational podium, finishing third overall with A7-class Golf.
Blomqvist joined Nissan Motorsports in 1991
Blomqvist returned to the WRC as a factory driver in 1991, joining Nissan Motorsports Europe. He was driving Nissan Sunny GTI-R in four events, with the fifth place at Safari Rally as the best result. In 1992, he had only three events on his schedule. At 1992 Swedish Rally he finished third, which was his last WRC podium.
Cooperation with Škoda started in 1994
At 1993 Swedish Rally, he competed and retired with Opel Calibra Turbo 4x4. Next year, he took the podium with the third place at Swedish Rally with Ford RS Cosworth, but the event wasn't on the WRC calendar. At 1994 RAC Rally, he finished fourth with Ford RS Cosworth.
In 1994, Blomqvist started the cooperation with Škoda Motorsport. He drove Škoda Favorit at Bohemia Rally and then helped Škoda to develop the Felicia Kit Car for the season 1995. Blomqvist himself tried the car and finished second at Bohemia Rally and then 21st in the WRC event in the UK.
Sensational 1996 Rally GB podium with Škoda
In 1996, Blomqvist participated with Ford RS Cosworth in two WRC events (Swedish Rally and Safari Rally) but the highlight of the season was 1996 RAC Rally. The rally wasn't in the WRC calendar but the competition was still strong. Blomqvist scored the sensational third place overall with two-wheel drive Škoda Felicia Kit Car.
In BRC with Škoda, in STCC with Ford
In 1997, Stig started the season finishing tenth in the Swedish Rally with Ford RS Cosworth and then competed in three events of the British Rally Championship with Škoda Felicia Kit Car, taking one more podium at Pirelli International Rally.
Besides rallying, Blomqvist participated in the 1997 Swedish Touring Car Championship, driving the Ford Mondeo Ghia. He scored five podiums in twelve races, to finish fifth in the points. In the 1998 STCC season, he participated in ten races, without wins and podiums.
Victory in the USA after a long time
In rallying, after four years of combining Fords and Škoda cars, Blomqvist was resting in 1998, participating in only one event, the Rallye du Condroz-Huy in Belgium. He was driving Ford Puma Kit Car, but retired after an accident. With the same car Stig entered the 1999 Swedish Rally and again had an accident. After a long time, he won the race in July 1999. It was the American Maine Forest Summer Pro Rally, he was driving Ford Escort RS Cosworth.
Stig won London - Sydney Marathon
The next victory followed in summer 2000 when Blomqvist participated in the transcontinental London – Sydney Marathon. Ben Rainsford and he competed in Ford Capri Perana and after a month of racing, they won ahead of Michele Mouton and Francis Tuthill in Porsche 911.
Since 2000, Ana Goni was sitting next to Stig
At Network Q Rally GB in November 2000, Blomqvist was driving for the first time with Venezuelan Ana Goni as a co-driver. Their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI didn't reach the finish, but it was just an announcement for Blomqvist full-season WRC return in 2001.
With Ana Goni in the codriver's seat, the 55-year-old Blomqvist started his new career. They competed with David Sutton Cars' Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI in twelve races, fighting for the PWRC title. They scored two class podiums in Sweden and Spain, to finish fifth in the PWRC classification. Blomqvist and Goni also had a one-off appearance with Škoda Octavia WRC at Neste Rally Finland, finishing 22nd overall.
Third place in the 2003 PWRC
In 2002, the Blomqvist/Goni crew participated in six WRC events, three with Škoda Octavia WRC and three with Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII. The best result was 15th place at Swedish Rally with Škoda. In 2003, the duo switched the car, using the Subaru Impreza WRX STI in the PWRC competition. With a class victory in Sweden, Blomqvist finished third in the Production WRC classification. In 2004, they competed only in two WRC events (Sweden and Grece) with Subaru, taking the class victory at Acropolis Rally.
Runner-up in the 2005 Rally America championship
In 2005, the new challenge followed. Blomqvist and Goni started the season at Swedish Rally, but then they moved to the United States and competed full season in the Rally America championship. The #65 Subaru Impreza won two times and took four more podiums, to finish second in the championship standings.
It was the last year with the full season campaign for Blomqvist. Since 2006, he had between two and five races annually, but he never stopped with rallying. His last WRC entry was in the 2006 Swedish Rally, where he and Ana Goni finished 24th overall and fourth in the Group N with Subaru Impreza WRX STI.
Memory run for Colin McRae
In September 2008, Blomqvist took part in the Colin McRae Forest Stages Rally, a round of the Scottish Rally Championship, together with many other WRC legends, in memory of Colin McRae, who died in 2007. Blomqvist returned to that event in 2011 and won.
Some events in which Blomqvist appeared regularly were Sweden's Midnattssolsrallyt, Austrian Internationale Jänner Rallye and Belgian Legend Boucles de Spa. In 2015, he participated in the McRae 20th Anniversary Rally Challenge. In November 2015, Blomqvist and Stephane Prevot participated in the East African Safari Classic Rally, taking the victory with Porsche 911.
Fifty years of rallying and still not ready to stop
Fifty years after his rally debut and his first victory, Stig Blomqvist is still rallying and still winning. His results – one world's title, eleven WRC wins and 33 podiums – are not among top five in the rallying statistics, but his longevity and passion for this sport make him a living legend, certainly one of the greatest rally drivers in a history and an inspiration to many future generations of drivers.