Juha Kankkunen

INTRODUCTION

Juha Matti Pellervo Kankkunen is one of the most accomplished rally drivers. His career in the World Rally Championship (WRC) lasted from 1983 to 2002. In 1986, Kankkunen gained prominence when he was signed by Peugeot and won the driver’s championship that same year. Juha achieved a total of 23 world rally victories and four drivers’ world championship titles, both once records in the series, and is the only driver to become a world champion with three different manufacturers. Kankkunen is famously coined for saying the phrase: “WRC is for boys, Group B was for men”.


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PERSONAL SUMMARY (WRC)

Personal information
Nationality Finland Finnish
Born 2 April 1959
World Rally Championship record
Active years 1979, 1982~2002, 2010
Teams Toyota, Peugeot, Lancia, Ford, Subaru, Hyundai
Rallies 162
Championships 4 (1986, 1987, 1991, 1993)
Rally wins 23
Podiums 75
Stage wins 700
Total points 1140
First rally 1979 1000 Lakes Rally
First win 1985 Safari Rally
Last win 1999 Rally Finland
Last rally 2010 Rally Finland

RALLY BIOGRAPHY

1978~1982: EARLY CAREER

Juha Kankkunen grew up on his family’s farm in Laukaa, Finland, near the routes of the famous 1000 Lakes Rally. His father had rallying and ice racing as a hobby, and taught Juha how to drive on an ice racing track. Kankkunen began to drive when he was seven years old, and owned his first car at the age of twelve. Showing interest in following his father’s passion, Kankkunen was trained by Timo Mäkinen, a friend of his father’s, with financial help from Timo Jouhki, future manager for many Finnish rally drivers such as Tommi Mäkinen and Mikko Hirvonen.

Juha Kankkunen – 1000 Lakes Rally 1979

In 1978, at nineteen years old, Kankkunen debuted his rallying career by driving a Group 2 Ford Escort RS 2000, one of the most popular rally cars of the time. His best finish of the year was a 11th overall (4th in class) place at the Salora Ralli. The following year Juha would upgrade to a faster Group 4 Escort. This heralded in his first World Rally Championship event at the 1000 Lakes Rally in Finland, finishing 14th overall.

Juha Kankkunen – 1000 Lakes Rally 1982

Kankkunen would make a return on the WRC scene in 1982, participating in Finland’s 1000 Lakes and Britain’s RAC events in a Group A Opel Manta GT/E, unfortunately retiring both times due to engine failure.

1983~1985: TOYOTA

In 1983, Juha’s driving talent and family connections would catch the eye of Toyota Team Europe (TTE), which were looking at campaigning the brand’s newly released Group B rally car – the Celica TwinCam Turbo. This association would see Juha become teammate to the 1979 world champion Björn Waldegård. Kankkunen would finish in 6th place at the 1000 Lakes Rally, retiring in the Côte d’Ivoire event, and a 7th place at the RAC Rally.

Juha Kankkunen – 1000 Lakes Rally 1983

In 1984, Kankkunen competed in four WRC events with Fred Gallagher as his new regular co-driver. However this was a year to forget since the team would retire in all but one event, the 1000 Lakes Rally, where Juha would improve his personal best finish with 5th position overall.

(c) eWRC-results.com / Juha Kankkunen – Haspengouwrally 1985

In 1985, Kankunnen started his season with a surprise victory at the tough Safari Rally, becoming the first driver to win the endurance event on the first attempt. Juha would repeat the exploit and take his second WRC career victory at the series’ other endurance event, the Rallye Côte d’Ivoire, where he finished with the same amount of penalty minutes (4 hours and 46 minutes) as his teammate Waldegård but took the win by a tiebreaker. This would help solidify Toyota’s dominance in these types of events.

1986: PEUGEOT

Kankkunen’s performances with the Celica earned him an opportunity to be signed for a full WRC season by the series’ top team and defending title champions, Peugeot Talbot Sport. Juha effectively replaced fellow “flying Finn” Ari Vatanen who was still recovering from his near fatal accident during the previous season in Argentina.

(c) eWRC-results.com / Juha Kankkunen – International Swedish Rally 1986

Kankkunen duly seized his opportunity, soon outshining new teammate and 1985 champion Timo Salonen, and took the second evolution of the Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 to victories in the Swedish Rally, the Acropolis Rally and the Rally New Zealand, plus finishing on the podium in three more events.

The 1986 season however ended in much controversy when the French Peugeot team were excluded at the Rallye Sanremo in Italy, resulting in a triple win for home country’s Lancia. Despite the 205 T16s being approved by the scrutineers before the rally, the stewards had decreed on re-examination that the cars’ were running “illegal” side skirts underneath. Peugeot immediately contested their exclusion.

Juha Kankkunen – Rallye Sanremo 1986

Still awaiting on the FISA‘s official review of the Sanremo incident, Peugeot and Kankkunen went into the season-ending Olympus Rally in the United States. Before the event, Lancia’s Markku Alén led Kankkunen by one point in the driver’s championship. Alén would beat Kankkunen to the win. Alén was declared world champion, Kankkunen as runner-up.

However, earlier in the year, Peugeot had sued the FISA for its infamous Group B ban after Henri Toivonen and Sergio Cresto’s unfortunate deaths at the Tour de Corse event, which could possibly result in immense financial losses for the Federation. Hence, FISA/FIA president Jean-Marie Balestre saw an opportunity to end the conflict with Peugeot by annulling the results of the Sanremo event, therefore stripping the driver’s title from Markku Alén and making Juha Kankkunen the then youngest champion in the history of the series.

1987: LANCIA

Group B, now banned, was replaced by Group A as the top echelon of the sport. However, double title winner Peugeot had no competitive Group A car and immediately withdrew from the WRC. Kankkunen thus moved to join the prominent Lancia Martini team and drive their Delta HF 4WD.

(c) eWRC-results.com / Juha Kankkunen – International Swedish Rally 1987

Juha quickly adapted to the new car and led his Lancia debut in Monte Carlo until the very last stage, when Lancia boss Cesare Fiorio controversially forced him to finish second behind teammate Miki Biasion. Kankkunen would however largely dominate the rest of the season with three wins and four podiums in nine events, finishing every rally. Kankkunen ultimately edged out his teammates Biasion and Alén to capture his second world driver championship.

At the Autosport Awards, Kankkunen was presented the “International Rally Driver Award” for the second year running. Despite becoming the first driver to successfully defend the world title, Kankkunen’s uneasy acceptance of Lancia’s “patriotic” team orders saw him return to Toyota Team Europe and rekindle with team boss and friend Ove Andersson. For Juha, this would hail the debut of a tango between the two teams.

1988~1989: RETURN TO TOYOTA (WRC) / PEUGEOT (SIDE)

Although Kankkunen finished fifth in his first event with a Toyota Supra Turbo at the Safari Rally, his title defence quickly proved unsuccessful since Toyota debuted the vastly unreliable Celica GT-Four ST165 at the Tour de Corse. This saw unlucky Kankkunen move from being a consecutive WRC title winner to finishing in an immensely disappointing 37th place in the drivers’ standings.

Juha Kankkunen – Paris~Dakar 1988

However, outside of the WRC, Juha achieved much success by returning to the wheel of a Peugeot 205 T16 GR; winning the Paris~Dakar Rally on his first attempt after compatriot and teammate Ari Vatanen’s 405 T16 GR was famously stolen while he was leading the event. Kankkunen also competed for his former Peugeot team at the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb, finishing runner-up to again-teammate Vatanen. At the first-ever Race of Champions, Juha would beat the 1985 world rally champion and former Peugeot teammate Timo Salonen in the final race to become the first “Champion of Champions”.

(c) eWRC-results.com / Juha Kankkunen – Lombard RAC Rally 1989

The 1989 WRC season saw a much improved and more reliable Toyota Celica. Kankkunen gave the GT-Four its first victory in the Rally Australia and finished third at the Tour de Corse and at the RAC. His good results placed him third in the drivers’ championship, behind Lancia drivers Biasion and Alex Fiorio. Toyota took then career-best second place in the manufacturers’ standings.

1990~1992: RETURN TO LANCIA

Toyota’s tardiness at providing a reliable and competitive car saw Kankkunen sign a deal to reacquaint himself with Lancia for the 1990 season. Halfway through the season, Kankkunen found himself only fourth in the championship while Toyota was in the lead with their new star driver Carlos Sainz. Although Kankkunen later repeated his win in Australia and collected his fifth podium of the season in Sanremo, Sainz went on to take a dominant title. Kankkunen placed third in the drivers’ world championship, between his teammates Didier Auriol and the defending world champion Biasion. Lancia did however edge out Toyota to take a record fourth manufacturers’ title in a row.

In the 1991 season, Kankkunen won the Safari Rally, the Acropolis Rally, his home 1000 Lakes Rally for the first time and the Rally Australia for the third year in a row. Before the season-ending RAC Rally, Toyota’s Sainz however led Kankkunen by one point in the championship since he had an equal number of wins. Juha was able to better Carlos at the season-ending RAC rally to claim his third world driver’s title. In the Race of Champions, Kankkunen became the second two-time winner after beating Auriol in the final.

(c) eWRC-results.com / Juha Kankkunen – Rallye Sanremo – Rallye d’Italia 1992

In 1992, Kankkunen placed on the podium in each of the nine WRC events that he participated in, but took his only win at the Rally Portugal. The title fight again went down to the wire. Before the final rally, Sainz led Kankkunen by two points and Auriol, who had taken a record six wins during the season, by three points. Sainz’s victory in the RAC ahead of Ari Vatanen and Kankkunen, combined with Auriol’s retirement, confirmed the title in favour of the Spaniard. Lancia would however score their 6th consecutive manufacturer’s title.

1993~1996: TOYOTA’S LAST HURRAH

After Lancia withdrew from the WRC after the 1992 season, Kankkunen rejoined Toyota to drive the Toyota Celica GT-FourST185 with which Sainz had defeated him last year. Juha went on to take a record fourth drivers’ title by winning five out of ten WRC events and retiring only once. Kankkunen’s win at the RAC marked his career 20th in the series, breaking compatriot Markku Alén’s record for most wins. Kankkunen and his third-placed teammate Didier Auriol brought Toyota the manufacturers’ crown, the first for a Japanese manufacturer.

(c) eWRC-results.com / Juha Kankkunen – 1000 Lakes Rally 1993

In 1994, Juha would score his only victory in Portugal while finishing runner-up in five events. At the season’s half-way point, Kankkunen and Subaru’s Sainz tied the lead in the championship, but a 9th and 7th place at the 1000 Lakes and Sanremo, respectively, dropped him out of the title fight. Finishing behind Auriol and Sainz in the overall standings, Kankkunen had to watch a teammate take the title for the only time in his career.

(c) eWRC-results.com / Juha Kankkunen – TAP Rallye de Portugal 1994

1995 would see Kankkunen’s finish on the podium four times, his best result being a second place at the Portugal event, but scoring no wins. After the penultimate round, the Rallye Catalunya, Toyota were found guilty of the implementing illegal turbo restrictor bypasses on their cars to circumvent the horsepower limit. The Japanese team was given a 12-month ban by the FIA. Toyota drivers Kankkunen, Auriol and Armin Schwarz were also stripped of all points in the championships albeit it was widely accepted that the drivers ignored that they were driving illegal cars. In the following year, Kankkunen competed for private Toyota teams in three events and finished fourth in Sweden, third in Indonesia and second in Finland.

1997~1998: FORD

Through the 1997 season, Kankkunen joined the Ford factory team to replace Armin Schwarz which was unable to drive the Escort RS Cosworth to any kind of success. It is note to mention that, even though 1997 hailed the implementation of the World Rally Car class, the Escort RS yet remained a Group A car. Juha would score five podiums after joining the M-Sport-run team but it was too late for a challenge to the title. Hence, Kankkunen’s role was relegated to support Ford and his teammate Carlos Sainz in their respective title fights.

(c) eWRC-results.com / Juha Kankkunen – Neste Rally Finland 1998

Kankkunen stayed with Ford for the 1998 season with Belgian driver Bruno Thiry as his new teammate, after Sainz had opted to re-join Toyota. Ford was already moving resources into developing the new Ford Focus WRC thus leaving the technically-outdated Escort RS without much development. Juha nonetheless drove the car on the podium on seven occasions – both Ford and Kankkunen finished fourth in their respective championships.

1999~2000: SUBARU

Kankkunen and McRae would swap roles at Subaru and Ford. Juha’s first year with the Subaru World Rally Team and the Subaru Impreza WRC led to victories in Argentina and Finland. In his home event, Rally Finland, Kankkunen beat Burns to what would be his 23rd and final victory in the WRC. Despite a one-two for Subaru again at the season-ending RAC, Subaru lost the manufacturers’ crown to Toyota by four points. For the third year in a row, Juha placed fourth in the drivers’ championship, while Tommi Mäkinen equalled Kankkunen’s record of four titles.

(c) eWRC-results.com / Juha Kankkunen – Rallye Catalunya 1999

Kankkunen’s 2000 season was a disappointment; retiring 5 times and scoring only three podiums, his best result being second place in the Safari Rally behind teammate Burns, and ultimately finishing 8th in the championship. This soon saw the Flying Finn fall out of favour with the Japanese team.

2001~2002: HYUNDAI

Left without a WRC contract, Kankkunen ended up competing in only one world rally during the season, the Rally Finland, for the Hyundai factory team – leading to a DNF. Juha however scored two wins at lesser international rallies.

(c) eWRC-results.com / Juha Kankkunen – Neste Rally Finland 2001

For the 2002 season, Hyundai initially offered Kankkunen a full 14-event WRC programme, which did not interest him, and the deal was modified to include only the nine gravel rallies. Despite a new evolution of the Accent WRC, Hyundai were unable to challenge the top teams. Kankkunen’s fifth place in the Rally New Zealand was the team’s best result of the season. The year also saw compatriot Tommi Mäkinen beat Kankkunen’s record of 23 WRC wins. With his career visibly dwindling down, Kankkunen would retire from the WRC after the season.

2003~: POST RETIREMENT

Following his retirement, Kankkunen announced his intention to enter politics, echoing the career path of rallying compatriot Ari Vatanen. In 2004, he ran for the European Parliament as a candidate of the conservative National Coalition Party. While Vatanen was re-elected, Kankkunen’s 17,815 votes were not enough to gain a seat.

In early 2007, Kankkunen set a new world speed record on ice in his privately-owned Bentley Continental GT on the frozen Gulf of Bothnia near Oulu, Finland. He averaged 321.65 km/h (199.86 mph) in both directions on the “flying kilometre”, reaching a maximum speed of 331 km/h (206 mph). Previously the record was 296.34 km/h (184 mph) held by a Bugatti EB110 Supersport.  In 2011, Kankkunen would better the record to 330.695 km/h (205.48 mph), driving an E85-powered Bentley Continental Supersports convertible – Bentley releasing a limited edition of 100 cars to celebrate the achievement.

(c) eWRC-results.com / Juha Kankkunen – Neste Oil Rally Finland 2010

Since 2008, Kankkunen has made regular appearances at various historic rally events, including Rally Legend. In 2010, Kankkunen would take part in his home Rally Finland to mark the sixtieth jubilee of the event. He was joined by his long-time co-driver Juha Repo driving a Ford Focus RS WRC ’08 for the Stobart M-Sport Ford Rally Team. At just over 51 years old, Kankkunen finished an impressive 8th overall, beating many WRC regulars in up-to-date machinery.

Kankkunen currently lives in Monaco but also spends time on his family farm in Laukaa, Finland, which includes a large country house and hundreds of hectares of land. Juha is well-known for possessing a large car collection, which includes six Ferraris such as the F40 and the 288 GTO, as well as all the four rally cars with which he won the world championship.

PARTIAL SOURCE: Wikipedia

(possibly spell-checked, translated, and/or edited; abridged, corrected, and/or expanded)


GROUP B RESULTS (WRC)

(# = finish position / R = retired or DNF / = did not compete)

Y TEAM EVENT PTS
Monaco
MC
Sweden
SE
Portugal
PT
Kenya
KE
France
FR
Greece
GR
New Zealand
NZ
Brazil
BR
Finland
FI
Italy
IT
Ivory Coast
CI
United Kingdom
GB
82 Opel R R 0
Y Team Event pts
Monaco
MC
Sweden
SE
Portugal
PT
Kenya
KE
France
FR
Greece
GR
New Zealand
NZ
Argentina
AR
Finland
FI
Italy
IT
Ivory Coast
CI
United Kingdom
GB
83 Toyota 6 R 7 10
84 Toyota R R 5 R 8
85 Toyota 1 R R 1 5 48
86 Peugeot 5 1 R 5 1 1 R 2 R 3 United States
US2
86 pts 118

WRC VICTORIES

Number Event Season Co-driver Car
1 Kenya Safari Rally 1985 Fred Gallagher Toyota Celica TCT
2 Ivory Coast Rallye Côte d’Ivoire 1985 Fred Gallagher Toyota Celica TCT
3 Sweden Swedish Rally 1986 Juha Piironen Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 E2
4 Greece Acropolis Rally 1986 Juha Piironen Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 E2
5 New Zealand Rally New Zealand 1986 Juha Piironen Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 E2
6 United States Olympus Rally 1987 Juha Piironen Lancia Delta HF 4WD
7 United Kingdom RAC Rally 1987 Juha Piironen Lancia Delta HF 4WD
8 Australia Rally Australia 1989 Juha Piironen Toyota Celica GT-Four ST165
9 Australia Rally Australia 1990 Juha Piironen Lancia Delta Integrale 16V
10 Kenya Safari Rally 1991 Juha Piironen Lancia Delta Integrale 16V
11 Greece Acropolis Rally 1991 Juha Piironen Lancia Delta Integrale 16V
12 Finland Rally Finland 1991 Juha Piironen Lancia Delta Integrale 16V
13 Australia Rally Australia 1991 Juha Piironen Lancia Delta Integrale 16V
14 United Kingdom RAC Rally 1991 Juha Piironen Lancia Delta Integrale 16V
15 Portugal Rally de Portugal 1992 Juha Piironen Lancia Delta HF Integrale
16 Kenya Safari Rally 1993 Juha Piironen Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD
17 Argentina Rally Argentina 1993 Nicky Grist Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD
18 Finland 1000 Lakes Rally 1993 Denis Giraudet Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD
19 Australia Rally Australia 1993 Nicky Grist Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD
20 United Kingdom RAC Rally 1993 Nicky Grist Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD
21 Portugal Rallye de Portugal 1994 Nicky Grist Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD
22 Argentina Rally Argentina 1999 Juha Repo Subaru Impreza WRC 99
23 Finland Rally Finland 1999 Juha Repo Subaru Impreza WRC 99

AWARDS & ACHIEVEMENTS

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Timo Salonen
Autosport
International Rally Driver Award

1986–1987
Succeeded by
Markku Alén
Preceded by
Didier Auriol
Autosport
International Rally Driver Award

1993
Succeeded by
Colin McRae
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Timo Salonen
World Rally Champion
1986–1987
Succeeded by
Miki Biasion
Preceded by
Ari Vatanen
Dakar Rally
Cars Winner

1988
Succeeded by
Ari Vatanen
Preceded by
Inaugural event
Race of Champions
Champion of Champions

1988
Succeeded by
Stig Blomqvist
Preceded by
Carlos Sainz
World Rally Champion
1991
Succeeded by
Carlos Sainz
Preceded by
Stig Blomqvist
Race of Champions
Champion of Champions

1991
Succeeded by
Andrea Aghini
Preceded by
Carlos Sainz
World Rally Champion
1993
Succeeded by
Didier Auriol
Records
Preceded by
Ari Vatanen
29 years, 212 days
(1981 season)
Youngest World Rally Champion
27 years, 249 days
(1986 season)
Succeeded by
Colin McRae
27 years, 109 days
(1995 season)
Preceded by
Markku Alén 
19 wins
(1973–1993, 2001)
Most Rally wins
23 wins,

20th at the 1993 RAC Rally
Succeeded by
Tommi Mäkinen
24 wins,
24th at the 2002 Monte Carlo Rally

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REFERENCES

(C) Page by Jay Auger – website owner & author


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