Last year's winner of Britain's Royal automobile Club (RAC) International Motor Rally, Hannu Mikkola of Finland, in his Ford Escort, took over the lead on Sunday night (18 November) at the halfway point in this year's competition.
Last year's winner of Britain's Royal automobile Club (RAC) International Motor Rally, Hannu Mikkola of Finland, in his Ford Escort, took over the lead on Sunday night (18 November) at the halfway point in this year's competition. He captured the lead after his countryman Markuu Aden, Plunged off the road in his Lancia Stratos during an overnight section. and fell four minutes behind. The four-day rally which ends on Wednesday (21 November) covers seventeen hundred miles (2,700 Km.) of Britain's toughest racing terrain.
SYNOPSIS: The race opened on sunday (18 November) under slippery road conditions that saw one of the favourites, Sweden's Bjorn Waldegaard, slide off the road.
The Ford Escort of Hannu Mikkola was in front at the halfway point on Monday (19 November). Mikkola won in an Escort last year, and this year a Ford success looks virtually certain with seven Escorts in the top nine places. Ari Vatenen's Escort follows Mikkola in second place.
The Datsun Violet of Timo Salonen was holding seventh place on the twenty-fifth stage of the race. By this second day of the rally, only one hundred and one cars out of one hundred and seventy-five starters. had survived.
The rally, considered on par with the East African Safari and the Monte Carlo, covers the forests circling southern scotland, central England and North Wales.
Mikkola, like his Ford team-mate and 1977 winner, Waldegaard, is anxious to do well and score vital world championship points.
But it's Ford driver Ari Vatenen who follows Mikkola for second place on this stage. Vatenen has threatened victory in the past only to be forced out by accidents and mechanical failures.
Another Escort driven by Russel Brookes, a former National champion, pulls into the checkpoint for a wheel change. Brookes ended the halfway stage in third place. Ford's bid for their eighth successive win will be their last for two years. Production of the well-proven escort will cease next september and rallying will be suspended while a replacement is developed.