Finnish driver Hannu Mikkola, in a works Ford Escort, won the British Royal Automobile Club's four-day, seventeen hundred mile (2,735 km) rally on Wednesday (21 November).
SV Car No. 1, eventual winner Hannu Mikkola of Finland staring final section in a works Escort
LV PAN Car No.10 Russell Brookes of Britain in an Escort, eventual second place-getter, starting final section
SV PAN Car No.12 Timo Salonen (Finland) in Datsun Violet, eventual third place-getter, beginning last section
GV PAN Hannu Mikkola driving through forest
SV PAN Russell Brookes through forest
SV PAN Timo Salonen through forest
SV Winning car of Hannu Mikkola arrives at finish with trumpet fan-fare sounding, Mikkola leaves car and is congratulated, climbs onto car with co-driver Arne Hertz and they are handed winner's laurels, they wave and shake a large bottle of champagne
SV Crowd applauds
CU Mikkola and Hertz wave from top of car
SPORT: MOTOR RALLYING
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Background: Finnish driver Hannu Mikkola, in a works Ford Escort, won the British Royal Automobile Club's four-day, seventeen hundred mile (2,735 km) rally on Wednesday (21 November). Britain's Russell Brookes in another Escort came second. Ford's stranglehold on the top places was broken only by another Finn, Timo Salonen, in a Datsun Violet. But it was the last race for the very successful factory-backed Escort. Ford plans to withdraw the car from production in 1980.
SYNOPSIS: Mikkola started the final day with an eight-minute lead, which he took on Sunday night (18 Nov.) after Markku Alen's Lancia Stratos left the road.
Britain's Russell Brookes in his Escort began the day in third place behind Ari Vatanen of Finland in another Escort.
Salonen's hard driving brought him from behind to start the final stage in fourth place.
Mikkola set the pace throughout most of the rally, with fastest time in 24 of the 59 stages. But it was Brookes who set the fastest time through the Welsh forest. Salonen too pulled out the stops through the ice and the mud.
But the finish in Chester, Mikkola had a ten minute lead over Brookes.
The victors managed to avoid the mechanical failures and hazardous conditions encountered by others. Tony Pond's Sunbeam while in third place slid on an icy bridge and crashed, only to find another car repeating his manoeuvre and landing on top of him. Malcolm Wilson, running fifth in an Escort, also crashed. But Mikkola and co-driver Arne Hertz had a trouble-free rally.
Roger Clark in a Ford Escort suffered from a broken valve spring and another Escort driver Ari Vatanen fell back from second to fourth when he arrived late at a time control check-point. But there was enough strength and depth in the Ford team to give it the laurels and the champagne.
Mikkola later remarked it was a happy ending for the official works Escort rally team.