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Flying Finns in action at Race Retro

Published 16 January 2017

Two Finnish rally legends will get back behind the wheel on the rally stage of this year’s Race Retro next month. Ari Vatanen (pictured above) and Markku Alén will be at the show, which takes place over the weekend of 25-26 February at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire.

Vatanen won the British Championship in 1976 and by 1977 was a regular competitor in the World Rally Championship at the wheel of a Ford Escort RS1800. Signed to the Rothmans Ford team in 1979, Vatanen and new co-driver David Richards took their first WRC win at the 1980 Acropolis.

After winning the WRC drivers title in 1981, Vatanen joined Peugeot at the wheel of a 205 T16, and was on course to win the 1985 World Championship until a near-fatal accident in Argentina ended his season and nearly his life. 

The Finn recovered and returned to the sport winning four Paris-Dakar Rallies in 1987, 1989, 1990 and 1991, as well as smashing the record for the Pikes Peak Hill climb in a 600bhp Peugeot 405 T16 in 1988. Vatanen said, ‘I am very much looking forward to joining Race Retro and seeing all the rally fans over the weekend. To get to drive these fantastic cars again is an honour and I can’t wait!’

Markku Ale ́n

Finnish Rally driver Markku Alén will be at this year's Race Retro.

Alén, who is known for his catchphrase ‘now maximum attack,’ never won a WRC title but he did hold the record for the most stage wins at 801 until the record was taken by Sébastien Loeb in the 2011 Rally Catalunya. 

Alén did win the FIA Cup for Drivers in 1978, the precursor to the World Championship for Drivers established in 1979, and held the WRC title for eleven days in 1986 until a successful appeal by Peugeot meant his win was annulled.

After starting his career in earnest with seven years at Fiat, Alén moved to Lancia where he became a familiar face alongside the iconic Martini livery of the Delta HF. He then moved to Subaru and Toyota before swapping rallying for Touring Cars for a season. 

In 2010, Alén joined Ferrari as a test driver starting with snow tests on the Ferrari 458 Italia. Ironic considering his passion for motorsport came from his father who was the 1963 Finnish champion in ice racing.

Alén, who appears on Friday afternoon, will be in action on Saturday. He said, ’I am delighted to be invited to this great event and look forward to driving on the Rally Stage with my old friend Ari. It will be a great weekend and I look forward to meeting fellow enthusiasts.’

The Live Rally Stage will be in action on Saturday and Sunday with around 70-80 Group B and C cars taking to the stage under the watchful eye of Rallying with Group B and the Falcon Motor Club. The live action will be held over two sessions, morning and afternoon, with the British Historic Kart Club acting as a warm up for the rally action.

Tickets are now on sale for Race Retro, held 24-26 February 2017 at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, with free parking and a free show guide for all visitors. For the latest updates visit www.raceretro.com.

Race Retro

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