Pentti Airikkala – 1945-2009

by Alasdair Lindsay

One of the first of many Finns to break onto the rally scene, Pentti Airikkala, has passed away aged 64 after a long battle with cancer.

He started his rally career in his native Finland, winning several rallies and the national title before moving to Britain. After several years of jumping from car to car, 1979 would finally be his year, after having signing for the works Vauxhall team, driving a Chevette HS, he took his lone British Rally title that year.

A decade later he finally made it big, after securing a works Mitsubishi drive for the 1989 RAC Rally, after securing the Group N title for Mitsubishi in the BRC, and in the process beat a young Colin McRae. Hence, in his Galant VR-4, he flew to victory to win his first and only WRC event.

He only made another two WRC appearances, both at Rally GB, in 1990 and 2003, smashing his Ford Sierra Cosworth in the first and then being forced to retire from the second in a Group-N Mitsubishi Lancer.

Airikkala had by now started his own driving school, instructing the likes of Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala.

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