Markku Alen

Markku Alen

Finland (FIN)

CAREER PROFILE

1969: Started rallying with Renault 8 Gordini

1971: Drives Volvo

1973: Placed 2nd in his WRC debut in Rally Finland with Volvo, 3rd in RAC with Ford

1974: Contract with Fiat

1975: 1st WRC win in Portugal  with Fiat

1976: Win in Finland with Fiat

1977: Win in Portugal with Fiat

1978: Winner of three WRC events with Fiat, FIA Cup winner

1979: Win in Finland with Fiat, 3rd WRC for Drivers

1980: Win in Finland with Fiat, 6th WRC for Drivers

1981: Win in Portugal with Fiat, 4th WRC for Drivers

1982: Move to Lancia

1983: Wins in Corsica and Italy with Lancia, 3rd WRC for Drivers

1984: Win in Corsica with Lancia, 3rd WRC for Drivers

1985: Drives Lancia, 7th WRC for Drivers

1986: Wins in Italy and USA with Lancia, 2nd WRC for Drivers

1987: Winner of three WRC events with Lancia, 3rd WRC for Drivers

1988: Winner of three WRC events with Lancia, 2nd WRC for Drivers

1989: Drives Lancia, 2nd in Portugal

1990: Move to Subaru

1991: Drives Subaru, 3rd in Sweden, 7th WRC for Drivers

1992: Contract with Toyota, 3rd in Finland, 5th WRC for Drivers

1993: Drives Toyota and Subaru, 2nd in Kenya

2001: Drives Ford

Date of Birth:
15/2/1951 at Helsinki

Marital status:
Married with Marianne, two sons

FIA Cup´s Drivers' Champion:
1978

Entries of WRC Events

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Markku Alen is undoubtly one of the most successful and popular drivers in rallying history. The son of a Finnish ice-racing champion, a young Markku decided to take to the ice and became champion in 1970, aged 19. His first Rally Finland was in 1971 when he was third in a Volvo, in 1973 he was second and then he travelled over to Britain for the RAC Rally. His 1973 RAC is remembered as one of the great fightbacks and began his 14-year obsession with trying to win the British rally. Alen misjudged a corner in Sutton Park, sending his Escort off the stage into a triple roll and down into 177th place. Faced with a challenge he began the task of scything through the field, catching cars on stage, and putting the car off again en route to the hardest won third place the rally is ever likely to see. The RAC drive was a neon sign pointing to his talent, and for 1974 Alen was faced with a straight choice between Fiat and Ford. He selected Fiat and a 15-year association with the Italian manufacturer began.

First of his 20 world championship victories he drove in Portugal 1975 at the age of 24. Then he was given the 131 Abarth, with which he won the FIA Cup, the forerunner to the drivers´championship, in 1978. It was ironoc that Alen should win the drivers´ title the year before it received its official world championship status, because he was doomed never to take the title once it had been made official. It was good time for Alen to be at Fiat. He fitted into the Italian lifestyle perfectly.

Fiat stopped its rallying activity and Alen started with Lancia. Only the name changed, the team was the same. He was the first Scandinavian to win Corsica when he took the victory in 1983 and it was the same year when, against the odds, the Lancia two-wheel-drive Rally 037 won the world championship, and to strengthen its hand team´s boss Cesare Fiorio had brought in the reigning world champion Walter Röhrl. Alen was not impressed at the attempt to shut him out and replied by winning in San Remo as well, which left him in third place in the drivers´championship, two points behind Röhrl and five behind Mikkola. Lancia´s concern was for the makes title only and the hoped-for-trip to the Ivory Coast for Alen did not materialize.

The rear-wheel-drive Rally 037 struggled against four-wheel-drive cars and the handicap was too much for even Alen to counterbalance, even on the 1000 Lakes Rally, but it was not for lack of trying. During the many years Alen´s raw aggression and skill gave the outdated Lancia lead after the first leg.

By the time the Delta S4 was ready to make its debut on the 1985 RAC Rally, Alen and his team-mate Henri Toivonen had wrung every ounce from the 037. Both were simply fed-up with the delay in homologating the S4 and Alen was even talking a possible move to Peugeot. The Delta S4 made a pretty spectacular first appearance. Toivonen and Alen took one-two finish. During the season 1986 he was fighting for the title with Juha Kankkunen. For 11 days at the end of that year, after winning the Olympus Rally, Alen was World Champion. The FIA decided that the points should be cancelled from San Remo and Alen, having won there, lost the points and the title.

Adapting quickly to the Group A Lancia, he spent a further three years with the Italian manufacturer. There were fewer seats available than top drivers and his program was very limited. It was nonetheless difficult for the spectator to adjust to seeing Alen in a Subaru, and his time there was not particularly happy. The Prodrive team were still perfecting ways in which to make the Legacy a winner and after two uncomfortable seasons which saw seven non-finishes from 12 rally starts he moved to Toyota for 1992.

It was very difficult time for Toyota with the brand new car and Alen started becoming ultra-fussy and not looking happy. His best result for Toyota was second on the 1993 Safari, his last drive for the team. In Finland he debuted Subaru´s new Impreza 555 and crashed on the first stage. It was the biggest accident of his career and he thought with his codriver Ilkka Kivimäki that it was time to stop rallying. He surprised everyone and turned to touring cars on the German DTM circuit and drove also some European Rally Championship events.      

In February 2001 Alen celebrated his 50th birthday and decided to compete at least one more time in Rally Finland. He has finished on podium 16 times; 6 victories, 3 times second and 7 times third. This record is nearly impossible to break. He  contested the Rally Finland 2001 at the wheel of a Ford Focus WRC and placed 16th overall. Long circle had closed. He drove his first world championship rally with the Ford Escort RS 1600 in RAC Rally 1973. If this proved to be his last world championship rally, it was nice to finish with Ford, with the same manufacturer for whom he started his real career.

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