Markku Alén

INTRODUCTION

Over his career, Alén drove for Fiat, Lancia, Subaru and Toyota in the World Rally Championship. He held the record for most stage wins (801) in the series until Sébastien Loeb overtook it at the 2011 Catalunya Rally. Alén’s phrase “now maximum attack” became well-known in the sport. In 1986, he was the world champion for eleven days, until Peugeot’s appeal went through and the results of Rallye Sanremo, which Alén had won, were annulled.


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PERSONAL SUMMARY (WRC)

Personal information
Nationality Finland Finnish
Born February 15th 1951
Helsinki
World Rally Championship record
Active years 1973~1993, 2001
Teams Ford, Fiat, Lancia, Subaru, Toyota
Rallies 129
Championships 1 (1978)
Rally wins 19
Podiums 56
Stage wins 801
Total points 840
First rally 1973 1000 Lakes Rally
First win 1975 Rally Portugal
Last win 1988 RAC Rally
Last rally 2001 Neste Rally Finland

RALLY BIOGRAPHY

EARLY CAREER

Alén’s interest in motorsport came from his father, who was the 1963 Finnish champion in ice racing. Alén started his rallying career in 1969 driving a Renault 8 Gordini, and finished ninth at the 1000 Lakes Rally at his first attempt. After getting a contract with the Finnish Volvo importer to drive the Volvo 142, he finished third at the 1000 Lakes Rally in 1971 and 1972. At his World Rally Championship debut at the 1973 1000 Lakes Rally, he took second place behind Timo Mäkinen.

1974~1981: FIAT

(C) eWRC-results.com / Alén – Kivimäki 1979 Hankiralli

Alén’s performances at his home event caught the attention of both Fiat and Ford. With Ford’s Escort RS 1600, he established his reputation as a hard-charger on the 1973 RAC Rally by finishing third, despite rolling his car on the first day and dropping to 178th place. This resulted in a “dream contract” with Fiat, with a very large salary. Alén also became the first rally driver to be assigned a personal fitness program.

In 1974 and 1975, Alén drove the Fiat 124 Abarth Rallye, achieving several podiums and then his debut WRC win at the 1975 Rally Portugal. During the 1976 season, Fiat debuted the new Fiat 131 Abarth, which would prove to be a big improvement over its predecessor. Alén won the 1976 1000 Lakes and the 1977 Rally Portugal, and helped Fiat to their first manufacturers’ title in 1977.

Then in 1978, Alén took the a Fiat 131 Abarth to two wins and five consecutive podiums. In the Rallye Sanremo, he debuted in Fiat’s Lancia Stratos HF and won his third world rally of the season. These good performances brought him the FIA Cup for Drivers title, well ahead of main rivals Jean-Pierre Nicolas and Hannu Mikkola, and netted Fiat their second manufacturers’ title. Alén continued with Fiat for the next three years, taking a win each season.

(C) eWRC-results.com / Alén 1981 Sanremo

1982~1989: LANCIA

After Fiat wound up their works rally team, Alén moved to the related Lancia team. In 1982 he debuted the marque’s first of two Group B category homologated models, the Lancia Rallye 037, a rear-wheel drive car which was, in consequence, a particular performer on the championship’s asphalt rounds. Alén’s several wins with it in 1983 helped Lancia narrowly edge-out Audi and their four-wheel drive long wheelbase Quattro to that year’s constructors’ championship.

(C) eWRC-results.com / Alén 1985 Sanremo

Indeed, it was Alén who was responsible for the car’s final victory, on the 1984 Tour de Corse, in a year in which Audi retook both of the title honours. The 037 was replaced by the four-wheel drive Lancia Delta S4 from the final round, in Great Britain, of the 1985 season.

(C) eWRC-results.com / Alén 1986 Sweden

Having become unequivocal team leader in the aftermath of teammate Henri Toivonen‘s death in Corsica the following year, Alén narrowly lost the 1986 World Rally Championship to rival driver, Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 pilot Juha Kankkunen. Late in the season, Alén had been victorious on the Rallye Sanremo only after Kankkunen’s Peugeot team was excluded by the organisers on a controversial technicality over “illegal” side-skirts applied to the cars.

(C) eWRC-results.com / 1986 Monte Carlo

Peugeot subsequently appealed the exclusion to the FISA, which eventually annulled the results of the rally, stripping Alén of the World Championship title which he had held for just eleven days, which led to Alén famously boycotting the 1987 Monte Carlo Rally. Alén remained at Lancia after the abolition of Group B at the end of 1986, and adapted successfully to the replacement Group A formula.

It is note to mention that Markku Alén’s victory at the 1986 Olympus Rally is the very last WRC win under the Group B regulations.

AFTER GROUP B

Alén won three events in the Lancia Delta HF 4WD in 1987, but lost his chance to take second place in the world driver’s championship after rolling his car in front of the TV cameras on the 1987 RAC Rally. He won another three events the following year, culminating in an emotional first victory in the RAC, an event he had been trying to win for fifteen years. It was to be his last world championship victory.

(C) eWRC-results.com / Alén – Kivimäki 1988 RAC

In 1990, Alén moved to the up and coming Prodrive-run Subaru World Rally Team, and was responsible for many of the Subaru Legacy’s early successes, including finishing fourth in the 1000 Lakes Rally, and third and two fourth places the following season. For 1992 he moved to the Toyota team, but found himself playing but a supporting role to Carlos Sainz.

The 1993 season found Alén without a full-time position, while he drove for Toyota and Subaru early in the season, taking second place for Toyota in the Safari Rally and 4th for Subaru in Portugal. Along with fellow veteran and 1981 World Champion Ari Vatanen, he drove the Subaru Impreza on its debut event, the 1000 Lakes Rally. Unfortunately for Alén, he crashed on the first stage of the event. This effectively marked the end of his career as a top-line rally driver.

He drove two races of the International Touring Car Championship of 1995 for Alfa Romeo, driving the same number of races in DTM earlier that year. He also drove in the Trophy Andros in 1996 and 1997. To celebrate his 50th birthday in 2001, he entered that year’s Finland Rally in August, finishing in a respectable 16th place overall with a Ford Focus WRC. He has also participated in the Paris-Dakar rally twice in the truck class. His son Anton Alén, is driving a Super 2000 class Fiat Punto in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge series.

(C) eWRC-results.com / Alén 2001 Finland

In March 2010, Luca di Montezemolo hired Alén as a Ferrari test driver where he started snow tests on the Ferrari 458 Italia. Alén also participated in various RallyLegend and historic events, plus being invited to drive the course opening car in the Global Assistance Setkání mistrů rallies.

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 Lancia 9 R R R 4 12
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 Lancia 2 4 1 2 5 3 1 100
84 Lancia 8 2 4 1 3 2 2 R 90
85 Lancia R R 3 4 37
86 Lancia R 2 R 3 R R 2 2 3 1 2 United States
US1
86 pts 104

WRC VICTORIES

 # Event Season Co-driver Car
1 Portugal 9º Rallye de Portugal Vinho do Porto 1975 Ilkka Kivimäki Fiat Abarth 124 Rallye
2 Finland 26th 1000 Lakes Rally 1976 Ilkka Kivimäki Fiat Abarth 131 Rallye
3 Portugal 11º Rallye de Portugal Vinho do Porto 1977 Ilkka Kivimäki Fiat Abarth 131 Rallye
4 Finland 28th 1000 Lakes Rally 1978 Ilkka Kivimäki Fiat Abarth 131 Rallye
5 Portugal 12º Rallye de Portugal Vinho do Porto 1978 Ilkka Kivimäki Fiat Abarth 131 Rallye
6 Italy 20º Rallye Sanremo 1978 Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Stratos HF
7 Finland 29th 1000 Lakes Rally 1979 Ilkka Kivimäki Fiat Abarth 131 Rallye
8 Finland 30th 1000 Lakes Rally 1980 Ilkka Kivimäki Fiat Abarth 131 Rallye
9 Portugal 15º Rallye de Portugal Vinho do Porto 1981 Ilkka Kivimäki Fiat Abarth 131 Rallye
10 France 27éme Tour De Corse – Rallye de France 1983 Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Rally 037
11 Italy 25º Rallye Sanremo 1983 Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Rally 037
12 France 28ème Tour de Corse – Rallye de France 1984 Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Rally 037
13 United States 21st Olympus Rally 1986 Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Delta S4
14 Portugal 21º Rallye de Portugal Vinho do Porto 1987 Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Delta HF 4WD
15 Greece 34th Acropolis Rally 1987 Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Delta HF 4WD
16 Finland 37th 1000 Lakes Rally 1987 Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Delta HF 4WD
17 Sweden 38th International Swedish Rally 1988 Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Delta HF 4WD
18 Finland 38th 1000 Lakes Rally 1988 Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Delta Integrale
19 United Kingdom 37th Lombard RAC Rally 1988 Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Delta Integrale

AWARDS & ACHIEVEMENTS

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Juha Kankkunen
Autosport
International Rally Driver Award

1988
Succeeded by
Miki Biasion
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Sandro Munari
FIA Cup for Rally Drivers
Champion

1978
Succeeded by
Björn Waldegård
(World Rally Championship)
Records
Preceded by
Stig Blomqvist
26 years, 203 days
(1973 Swedish Rally)
Youngest Rally
Winner

24 years, 156 days
(1975 Rallye de Portugal)
Succeeded by
Henri Toivonen
24 years, 86 days
(1980 RAC Rally)
Preceded by
Hannu Mikkola 
18 wins
(1973–1993)
Most Rally wins
19 wins,

19th at the 1988 RAC Rally
Succeeded by
Juha Kankkunen
23 wins,
20th at the 1993 RAC Rally
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WELCOME TO THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE GOLDEN ERA OF RALLYING

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