INTRODUCTION: The RAC Britain rally finished on Wednesday (25 November) in chester.
UNITED KINGDOM LLANDUDNO & CHESTER (VISNEWS - RORY MCLEOD)
GV Spectators as car No. 5 starts special stage in Llandudno (2 shots)
GV Car No. 2 leaving start
GV Car No. 13 leaving start
GV Helicopter and spectators (2 shots)
Background: INTRODUCTION: The RAC Britain rally finished on Wednesday (25 November) in chester. The winner, Hannu Mikkola of Finland, in car No. 5. won by over ten minutes from Ari Vatanen. Vatanen, in car No.2, also from Finland ensured his victory in the World Rally Driver's 1981 Championship by finishing in second place. His closest rival for the world crown, Guy Frequelin from France, was forced out of the rally by a broken petrol pipe.
SYNOPSIS: Mikkola, driving a four-wheel-drive Audi Quattro, went into the final stages in Wales with a lead of over ten minutes. He had a trouble-free rally -- apart from rolling the car on the first day. Vatanen, in a Ford Escort, had only to finish the Rally to take the World Driver's Championship. Car No. 13, the Toyota of Per Eklund of Sweden, was chasing the leaders as they left Llandudno.
Mikkola gave a masterly performance producing the fastest time at 25 of the 65 special stages. The drivers had faced terrible weather during the 2,924 kilometre event. Mikkola's car survival remarkably well. At the finish in Chester, spectators and officials crowded the finishing line as the winner arrived to a fanfare of trumpets. it was Mikkola's third win in this event in four years. Second-placed Ari Vatanen knew that he was in sight of winning the 1981 Driver's Championship when Frequelin was forced out of the rally after the 52nd special stage -- one of the tough forest stretches in central Wales. Frequelin was lying in tenth place at the time of his retirement. Scandinavian drivers dominated the event. Stig Blomqvist of Sweden, driving a sunbeam Talbot, finished in third place and Pentti Airrikkala of Finland was fourth. Vatanen and his co-driver, David Richards (UK) celebrated their victory in the Drivers' Championship in fine style.
While Mikkola opened the traditional bottle of champagne, Vatanen and richards mounted the victors' rostrum to applause from the thousands of spectators at the finish. Vatanen and richards, two of the youngest competitors in the top flight of international rally drivers and navigators have been consistently among the leaders in events this year. The RAC Rally is considered one of the most exacting events in the Rallying calendar, and with age on their side Vatanen and Richards will surely go on to further success.
InitialsBB SPORT: MOTOR RALLYING Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved