The rallying world has been paying tribute to 1983 World Rally Champion Hannu Mikkola, who has died at the age of 78.
Mikkola, who was the first driver to clinch the WRC title in a four-wheel-drive car, passed away on Friday due to cancer, his son Vesa said.
The flying Finn wowed spectators across three decades at rallying’s highest level, and made the Ford Escort and Audi Quattro two of the most iconic vehicles of all time. Leading figures from rallying’s past and present were quick to praise a driver who will be remembered as one of the WRC’s greats.
Carlos Sainz – two-time WRC champion
Very sad day for the rally family. One of the best ever drivers has passed away, Hannu Mikkola. All my condolences for his family and friends. RIP.
Sébastien Ogier – seven-time WRC champion
Sad day for our sport as one of our legends left us today. Hannu Mikkola won the WRC same year I was born and although I never had the honor to meet him I am saddened by his passing as he will be remembered as one of the greats. My thoughts are with his family and friends. RIP.
Jari-Matti Latvala – Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC team principal
Such a sad news this morning for the WRC family. Hannu Mikkola was one of those original Flying Finns and was a real gentleman. He inspired so many people including myself & I’m glad I could meet him & share some great rally memories. My thoughts are going to his family. pic.twitter.com/QILeG7cIaa
— Jari-Matti Latvala (@JariMattiWRC) February 27, 2021
Petter Solberg – 2003 WRC champion
Really sad to hear the news about Hannu Mikkola – he was a legend, a proper gentleman, a real champion, and a great father to great kids. Sending all my condolences to his family and friends. RIP.
Matthew Wilson – former WRC driver
A sad day for the rallying community. One of the best and my mum’s hero sadly left us today. Hannu was always a favourite in the Wilson household. RIP Hannu Mikkola. Thoughts with his family and friends.
Oliver Solberg – Hyundai WRC driver
Very sad news last night for our rally family. One of the best ever drivers and a great man passed away, WRC Champion Hannu Mikkola. Sending all my thoughts to his family and friends. We rally for you this weekend.
We are saddened to hear the news about the passing of Hannu Mikkola, a long-time friend of Audi Sport and the World Rally Champion with Audi in 1983. We send our sincere condolences to his family and friends.
Ari Vatanen – 1981 World Rally Champion
Painful and sad news Hannu Mikkola is not with us anymore. Very few, if any, can touch Hannu’s greatness as a driver. He is a legend and a real champion.
A gentleman, devoted family man, respected and appreciated by everybody. He left a legacy in the rallying world. He was a true flying Finn.
He had a big impact in my life. He inspired me, he guided me, he took brotherly care of me even when we were competing against each other. I could always count on him.
I’m grateful for the intense moments we shared in life. I’m honored of being able to call Hannu a close friend. My thoughts are with Arja, Juha and Vesa.
We are still on the road, Hannu has arrived at the destination. Our heavenly father takes care of him now. Hannu, I miss you.
Guy Wilks – former IRC driver
I am very saddened to learn Hannu Mikkola has passed away. I have been lucky enough to spend time with him and what a gentleman he was. Humble, grounded and so warm. I hold you in the highest of regard with great memories. RIP Hannu and love to all your family.
Gerard Quinn – former Ford Motorsport manager
Saddened to learn of the passing of Hannu Mikkola, 1942-2021 RIP. A true sportsman, champion, legend and hero to so many for decades. Sincere condolences to his friends and family.
Nicky Grist – 1993 WRC Champion co-driver
Upset to hear the very sad news of the passing of Hannu Mikkola. One of my rallying heroes. I had the pleasure of competing with him in an Escort RS, a car he had a lot of success in. A quietly spoken man but a true gentleman. We have lost our first real rally legend. RIP Hannu.
Kristian Sohlberg – former WRC driver
RIP Hannu Mikkola. We have lost one legend rally driver and a extremely nice person!
David Evans – DirtFish senior staff writer
Goodnight to one of the greats. Hannu Mikkola was and always will be one of the absolute giants of our sport. A fierce competitor, proper Finn and total gentleman. Rest easy champ.
Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC
We are saddened by the passing of Hannu Mikkola – an icon of the WRC and a special driver in Toyota’s rally history. We send our condolences to his family and will drive on with him in our thoughts this weekend.
Jean Todt – FIA president, former WRC co-driver
Very sad day for the Rally family. Hannu Mikkola was a legendary driver and a lifelong friend, 1983 @OfficialWRC World Champion, 7-time 1000 Lakes winner. I’ve had the privilege to be his co-driver, in 1975 we ran the @Arcticrally on Fiat 124. My thoughts are with his loved ones. pic.twitter.com/a6tTi2gEUR
— Jean Todt (@JeanTodt) February 27, 2021
Michèle Mouton – Mikkola’s Audi WRC team-mate
I will say my first thoughts are going to the family. Because I know he is in peace now, it has been very difficult for him. The difficulties for the family are staying.
As a team-mate for me in Audi time, I know he has been a great person, always considering me like equal even if I was a young lady arriving in the world championship. Always sharing all the information, treating me as equal to him.
A great gentleman, at the same time a fantastic driver. Very detailed mind, very [much a] fighter. But always calm, always cool when he was with us. At that time, we shared a lot of time together. The practice, I remember Kenya for example where we spent a lot of time [together]. He was a friend, so to lose a friend is always difficult. Especially here, I was thinking about him because we have the conditions that we had at my time in Sweden. Of course all the memories are coming back.
He’s incredible. He’s a legend. Among the Finns, he was the fastest one ever. And of course it’s a huge legacy for Finnish drivers today. A great person, you can not say more.
He was really a fantastic driver and a fantastic friend.
Juha Mikkola – Hannu’s son
Heart-warming to see the posts remembering my dad. Most knew Hannu Mikkola as a rally driver; I’ll remember him as an amazing husband to my mom Arja, father to Vesa and me, and grandfather. Thank you for everything dad, you set an incredible example for us to follow in life.