Hannu Mikkola of Finland, driving a Mercedes, won the Ivory Coast's Bandama Motor Rally, the final event of the 1979 World Championship on Friday (14 December).
Hannu Mikkola of Finland, driving a Mercedes, won the Ivory Coast's Bandama Motor Rally, the final event of the 1979 World Championship on Friday (14 December). The rally was a major victory for Mercedes, which took the first four places.
SYNOPSIS: At the Daloa checkpoint Mikkola was already in the lead. This was the final stage of the rally, with only ten out of the field of 57 cars still in the competition. For Mikkola, the rally was the last chance to snatch the world championship from the Swede, Bjorn Waldegaard. Before the rally began he was leading by 105 points to Mikkola's 92.
Waldegaard could not catch Mikkola, and drove his works Mercedes into second place. But that was still enough to give him this year's world motor rally championship. This final stage covered 1,500 miles (2,430 km). Ahead lay some of the toughest conditions as the cars headed back to Abidjan. The supremacy of the Mercedes entrants was a new development. Earlier rallies had been dominated by Peugeots.
Another Swede, Ove Andersson in a Toyota held on to take fifth place. He was followed by Ambrosino, a local driver in one of the two Peugeots which finished the gruelling course.
At this stage, Waldegaard had 34 minutes of penalties behind Mikkola. Behind him came Any Cowan of Britain who took third place overall. The last two cars survived to finish, but arrived too late to be placed.
At the end of the 3,400 mile (5,700 kms) rally, with only three hours 23 minutes of penalties against him, Mikkola crossed the finishing line to a champagne welcome. His fellow Finn, Timo Makinen, who had won this event twice, did not manage to finish the course this year.
For Mikkola there was only one disappointment. His victory was not enough to push him past Waldegaard for the world title.