|CAREER PROFILE1978: Started
rallying with Ford Escort RS 2000
1979: His WRC debut
in Rally Finland with Ford
1981: Drives minor rallies in Finland with Ford and Sumbeam
1982: Drives rallies in Finland, Belgium and Denmark with Ford and Opel, 1st WRC event abroad in RAC
1983: Rallies with Opel, Ford and Toyota, Get in drive works team´s Toyota in three WRC events, 6th in Rally Finland
1984: Four WRC events with works team´s Toyota Celica TC Turbo, 5th in Rally Finland
1985: 1st WRC win in Safari Rally at first attempt with Toyota
1986: Contract with Peugeot, three WRC wins, World Champion
1987: Move to Lancia, two WRC wins, World Champion
1988: Move to Toyota
1989: Win in Australia with Toyota, 3rd WRC for Drivers
1990: Return to Lancia, win in Australia, 3rd WRC for Drivers
1991: Winner of five WRC events with Lancia, World Champion
1992: One win with Lancia, 2nd WRC for Drivers
1993: Return to Toyota, Winner of five WRC events with three different co-driver, World Champion
1994: One win with Toyota, 3rd WRC for Drivers
1995: Toyota excluded from WRC
1996: Three WRC events with semi-works Toyota
1997: Mid-season return to WRC with Ford, 4th WRC for Drivers
1998: Drives with Ford,4th WRC for Drivers
1999: Move to Subaru, Wins in Argentina and Finland, 4th WRC for Drivers
2000: Drives Subaru, 8th WRC for Drivers
2001: Drives Toyota, Subaru and Hyundai
2002: Contract with Hyundai
|Date of Birth:
21/4/1959 at Laukaa
World Drivers' Champion:
There's no doubt that Juha Kankkunen is the most successful rally driver in the history of the WRC. He has been World Champion four times with Peugeot, Lancia (twice) and Toyota, and won 23 WRC rallies. His accomplishments nobody can match.
Kankkunen grew up on his family´s farm only a twenty-minute drive from Jyväskylä, centre of the Rally Finland under the watchful eye of ex-champion Timo Mäkinen, a friend of Kankkunen senior. Even when he failed to finish in early rallies he was often streets ahead of the opposition and was soon offered a drive with Toyota Finland. At the age of just 24 he was offered a works Toyota drive, finishing 6th in Rally Finland. He won the Safari Rally at his first attempt in 1985, and taking an African double after victory on the Ivory Coast, he was a target for Peugeot chief Jean Todt and so the Finn joined Peugeot for 1986 alongside Timo Salonen. He had never rallied a four-wheel-drive car, but three victories and two second places gave him his first World Rally Championship.
With the end of Group B, he moved to Lancia for 1987 and became World Drivers' Champion again, despite stiff competition from Massimo Biasion and Markku Alen. He left the team after disagreement with management but return to his Toyota family in 1988 and 1989 was neither happy nor successful as the team struggled to make its Group A challenger, the Celica GT-Four, a winner. It failed to finish any of its rallies with Kankkunen and he was so disillusioned that even when it began to show distinct promise, winning the Rally Australia, he had already made plans to return to Lancia.
He took his third World Championship in 1991 after an exhausting season when he won five rallies, winning his home event, Rally Finland, for first time. Another year with Lancia in 1992 saw only one win, in Portugal, and Kankkunen moved once again back to Toyota to contest the 1993 championship.
Despite losing regular co-driver Juha Piironen after a near-fatal brain haemorage in Rally Argentina practice, Kankkunen won three of the next four rallies to clinch his fourth Drivers' title, as well as a Manufacturers' championship for his team. It was great feeling for Kankkunen, because he helped his "benevolent father" Ove Andersson achieve his managerial ambition by giving Toyota the manufacturers´title for the first time in history.
Kankkunen continued with Toyota for 1994, but could only achieve third in the championship. The Toyota team's disqualification in 1995 left him with a miniscule programme for 1996 and when Toyota announced that their number one driver would be Auriol not Kankkunen, it seemed that his rallying career was over. All changed in a mid-season 1997 when he replaced Armin Schwarz in a Ford team. He placed fourth in the championship despite just eight starts. Running ahead of Sainz on occasions, Kankkunen proved he has lost none of his ability.
For the season 1999 he had a contract with Ford, but he left the team totally suprisingly after 16 months with M-Sport. The main reason for that was Colin McRae´s contract with Ford. He does not want to be "a second driver" in the team. He made a contract with Subaru and win in Rally Argentina ended a five-year victory drought for the Finn. His win meant he took his first World Rally Championship victory since the 1994 Rally of Portugal and gave Subaru its first win for a year. A couple of months later he took his 23rd World Championship rally victory on his home event - Rally Finland. The four-time world champion was now alone the most successful rally driver of all-time.
Subaru dropped him at the end of the 2000 season and he was without works drive. He competed in two rounds of the European Championship, Corte Ingles and Rallye Azores finishing, fourth and first in a Toyota and Subaru respectively. In Rally Finland 2001 he made a WRC comeback, when he contested the event at the wheel of a works Hyundai Accent WRC2. He showed that the speed is still there. He made a contract with Hyundai and contestes nine gravel events of the 2002 season. Hyundai was forced to cut budget and Kankkunen was again without works drive.