Markku Alén

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Markku Alén
Personal information
Nationality Finland Finnish
Born (1951-02-15) February 15, 1951 (age 63)
Helsinki
World Rally Championship record
Active years 1973–1993, 2001
Teams Ford, Fiat, Lancia, Subaru, Toyota
Rallies 129
Championships 1 (1978)
Rally wins 19
Podiums 56
Stage wins 801[1]
Total points 840
First rally 1973 1000 Lakes Rally
First win 1975 Rally Portugal
Last win 1988 RAC Rally
Last rally 2001 Neste Rally Finland

Markku Allan Alén (born February 15, 1951, in Helsinki) is a Finnish former rally and race car driver. He drove for Fiat, Lancia, Subaru and Toyota in the World Rally Championship, and held the record for most stage wins (801) in the series, until Sébastien Loeb overtook it at the 2011 Rally Catalunya. Alén's phrase "now maximum attack" became well-known.[2]

Alén never won the world championship itself, despite being for a long time the driver with the most wins to his credit. However, he did win the FIA Cup for Drivers in 1978, the precursor to the World Championship for Drivers established in 1979. In 1986, he was the world champion for eleven days, until Peugeot's appeal went through and the results of Rallye Sanremo, which Alén had won, were annulled.[2]

Career[edit]

Early[edit]

Alén's interest in motorsport came from his father, who was the 1963 Finnish champion in ice racing. Alén started his rallying career in 1969 driving a Renault 8 Gordini, and finished ninth at the 1000 Lakes Rally at his first attempt. After getting a contract with the Finnish Volvo importer to drive the Volvo 142, he finished third at the 1000 Lakes in 1971 and 1972. At his World Rally Championship debut at the 1973 1000 Lakes Rally, he took second place behind Timo Mäkinen.

Fiat (1974–81)[edit]

Alén drives a Fiat 131 Abarth at the 1978 1000 Lakes Rally.

Alén's performances at his home event caught the attention of both Fiat and Ford. With Ford's Escort RS 1600, he established his reputation as a hard-charger on the 1973 RAC Rally by finishing third, despite rolling his car on the first day and dropping to 178th place. This resulted in a "dream contract" with Fiat, with a very large salary. Alén also became the first rally driver to be assigned a personal fitness program.[3]

In 1974 and 1975, Alén drove the Fiat 124 Abarth Rallye, achieving several podiums and then his debut WRC win at the 1975 Rally Portugal. During the 1976 season, Fiat debuted the new Fiat 131 Abarth, which would prove to be a big improvement over its predecessor. Alén won the 1976 1000 Lakes and the 1977 Rally Portugal, and helped Fiat to their first manufacturers' title in 1977.

Alén's 1978 Rallye Sanremo -winning Lancia Stratos HF.

Then in 1978, Alén took the car to two wins and five consecutive podiums. In the Rallye Sanremo, he debuted in Alitalia Fiat's Lancia Stratos HF and won his third world rally of the season. These performances brought him the FIA Cup for Drivers title, well ahead of main rivals Jean-Pierre Nicolas and Hannu Mikkola, and Fiat their second manufacturers' title. Alén continued with Fiat for the next three years, taking a win each season.

Lancia (1982–89)[edit]

After Fiat wound up their works rally team, Alén moved to the related Lancia team. In 1982 he debuted the marque's first of two Group B category homologated models, the Lancia 037, a rear-wheel drive car which was, in consequence, a particular performer on the championship's asphalt rounds. Alén's several wins with it in 1983 helped Lancia narrowly pip Audi and their four-wheel drive long wheelbase Quattro to that year's constructors' championship. Indeed it was Alén who was responsible for the car's final victory, on the 1984 Tour de Corse, in a year in which Audi retook both of the title honours, before it was replaced by the four-wheel drive Lancia Delta S4 from the final round, in Great Britain, of the 1985 season.

Alén driving his Delta HF 4WD at the 1987 RAC Rally.

Having become unequivocal team leader in the aftermath of team-mate Henri Toivonen's death in Corsica the following year, Alén narrowly lost the 1986 World Rally Championship to rival driver, Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 E2 pilot Juha Kankkunen. Late in the season, Alén had been victorious on the San Remo rally only after Kankkunen's Peugeot team was excluded by the organizers on a controversial technicality. Peugeot subsequently appealed the exclusion to the FISA, which eventually annulled the results of the rally, stripping Alén of the World Championship title which he had held for just eleven days, which lead to Alen famously boycotting the 1987 Monte Carlo Rally.[4][5]

Alén remained at Lancia after the abolition of Group B at the end of 1986, and adapted successfully to the replacement Group A formula. He won three events in the Lancia Delta HF 4WD in 1987, but lost his chance to take second place in the world driver's championship after rolling his car in front of the TV cameras on the 1987 RAC Rally. He won another three events the following year, culminating in an emotional first victory on the RAC, an event he had been trying to win for fifteen years. It was to be his last world championship victory.

Later career[edit]

Alén with a Ford Focus WRC at the 2001 Rally Finland.

In 1990, Alén moved to the burgeoning Prodrive-run Subaru World Rally Team, and was responsible for many of the Subaru Legacy's early successes, including 4th on the 1990 1000 Lakes Rally, and a 3rd and two 4th places the following season. For 1992 he moved to the Toyota team, but found himself playing very much a supporting role to Carlos Sainz. The 1993 season found Alén without a full-time position, and he drove for Toyota and Subaru early in the season, taking 2nd place for Toyota on the Safari Rally and 4th for Subaru in Portugal. Along with fellow veteran and 1981 World Champion Ari Vatanen, he drove the Subaru Impreza on its debut event, the 1000 Lakes Rally. Unfortunately for Alén, he crashed on the first stage of the event. This effectively marked the end of his career as a top-line rally driver.

He drove two races of the International Touring Car Championship of 1995 for Alfa Romeo, driving the same number of races in DTM earlier that year. He also drove in Trophy Andros in 1996 and 1997.

To celebrate his 50th birthday in 2001, he entered that year's Neste Rally Finland in August, finishing in a respectable 16th place overall with a Ford Focus WRC. He has also participated in the Paris-Dakar rally twice in the truck class. Anton Alén, son of Markku, is driving a Super 2000 class Fiat Punto in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge series.

In March 2010, Luca di Montezemolo hired Alén as a Ferrari test driver. He started with snow tests on the Ferrari 458 Italia.[6]

Complete WRC results[edit]

Year Entrant Car 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 WDC Points
1973 Oy Volvo-Auto Ab Volvo 142 MON SWE POR KEN MOR GRE POL FIN
2
AUT ITA USA FRA N/A N/A
Motorcraft Ford Escort RS1600 GBR
3
1974 Fiat S.p.A. Fiat 124 Abarth Spider MON
C
SWE
C
POR
3
KEN GRE
C
FIN
3
ITA
Ret
CAN
Ret
USA
2
FRA
Ret
N/A N/A
Ford Motor Company Ltd Ford Escort RS1600 GBR
Ret
1975 Fiat S.p.A. Fiat 124 Abarth Spider MON
3
SWE
6
KEN GRE MOR POR
1
ITA
Ret
FRA GBR
Ret
N/A N/A
Datsun Datsun Violet 160J FIN
Ret
1976 Fiat S.p.A. Fiat 124 Abarth Spider MON
6
SWE POR KEN GRE N/A N/A
Fiat 131 Abarth MOR
12
ITA
Ret
FRA GBR
Ret
Autonovo Oy FIN
1
1977 Fiat S.p.A. Fiat 131 Abarth MON
54
SWE
Ret
POR
1
KEN NZL
3
GRE
Ret
CAN
Ret
ITA FRA GBR
Ret
NC 0
Autonovo Oy FIN
Ret
1978 Alitalia Fiat Fiat 131 Abarth MON SWE
3
KEN POR
1
GRE
2
FIN
1
CAN
2
1st 52
Lancia Stratos HF ITA
1
CIV FRA GBR
Ret
1979 Alitalia Fiat Fiat 131 Abarth MON
3
SWE
4
POR KEN
3
GRE NZL FIN
1
CAN ITA
6
FRA 3rd 68
Lancia GB Lancia Stratos HF GBR
5
CIV
1980 Fiat Italia Fiat 131 Abarth MON
Ret
SWE POR
2
KEN GRE
3
ARG
Ret
6th 47
Fiat Rally / ASA FIN
1
NZL
4 Rombi Corse ITA
Ret
FRA GBR CIV
1981 Fiat Auto Torino Fiat 131 Abarth MON
7
SWE POR
1
KEN FRA GRE
2
ARG BRA FIN
2
ITA
9
CIV 4th 56
Team Chardonnet Lancia Stratos HF GBR
Ret
1982 Martini Racing Lancia Rally 037 MON SWE POR KEN FRA
9
GRE
Ret
NZL BRA FIN
Ret
ITA
Ret
CIV GBR
4
21st 12
1983 Martini Racing Lancia Rally 037 MON
2
SWE POR
4
KEN FRA
1
GRE
2
NZL ARG
5
FIN
3
ITA
1
CIV GBR 3rd 100
1984 Martini Racing Lancia Rally 037 Evolution 2 MON
8
SWE POR
2
KEN
4
FRA
1
GRE
3
NZL
2
ARG FIN
2
ITA
Ret
CIV GBR 3rd 90
1985 Martini Lancia Lancia Rally 037 Evolution 2 MON SWE POR KEN
Ret
FRA
Ret
GRE NZL ARG FIN
3
ITA
4
CIV 5th 37
Lancia Delta S4 GBR
2
1986 Martini Lancia Lancia Delta S4 MON
Ret
SWE
2
POR
Ret
FRA
Ret
GRE
Ret
NZL
2
ARG
2
FIN
3
CIV ITA
1
GBR
2
USA
1
2nd 104
Martini Lancia Lancia Rally 037 Evolution 2 KEN
3
1987 Martini Lancia Lancia Delta HF 4WD MON SWE
5
POR
1
KEN FRA GRE
1
USA
3
NZL ARG FIN
1
CIV ITA
Ret
GBR
5
3rd 88
1988 Martini Lancia Lancia Delta HF 4WD MON SWE
1
2nd 86
Martini Lancia Lancia Delta Integrale POR
6
KEN FRA GRE
4
USA NZL ARG FIN
1
CIV ITA
4
GBR
1
1989 Martini Lancia Lancia Delta Integrale SWE MON POR
2
KEN FRA GRE NZL ARG FIN
Ret
AUS
3
ITA CIV GBR 9th 27
1990 Subaru Technica International Subaru Legacy RS MON POR KEN
Ret
FRA GRE
Ret
NZL ARG FIN
4
AUS ITA
Ret
CIV GBR
Ret
20th 10
1991 Subaru Rally Team Europe Subaru Legacy RS MON SWE
3
POR
5
KEN FRA GRE
Ret
NZL
4
ARG FIN
Ret
AUS
4
ITA CIV ESP GBR
Ret
8th 40
1992 Toyota Team Europe Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD MON
Ret
POR
4
GRE
Ret
NZL ARG FIN
3
AUS ITA CIV ESP GBR
4
5th 50
Toyota Team Sweden Toyota Celica GT-Four ST165 SWE
4
Toyota Team Kenya Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD KEN
5
FRA
1993 555 Subaru World Rally Team Subaru Legacy RS MON SWE POR
4
11th 25
Toyota Castrol Team Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD KEN
2
FRA GRE ARG NZL
555 Subaru World Rally Team Subaru Impreza 555 FIN
Ret
AUS ITA ESP GBR
2001 Blue Rose Team Ford Focus WRC MON SWE POR ESP ARG CYP GRE KEN FIN
16
NZL ITA FRA AUS GBR NC 0

WRC wins[edit]

 #  Event Season Co-driver Car
1 Portugal 9º Rallye de Portugal Vinho do Porto 1975 Ilkka Kivimäki Fiat Abarth 124 Rallye
2 Finland 26th 1000 Lakes Rally 1976 Ilkka Kivimäki Fiat Abarth 131 Rallye
3 Portugal 11º Rallye de Portugal Vinho do Porto 1977 Ilkka Kivimäki Fiat Abarth 131 Rallye
4 Finland 28th 1000 Lakes Rally 1978 Ilkka Kivimäki Fiat Abarth 131 Rallye
5 Portugal 12º Rallye de Portugal Vinho do Porto 1978 Ilkka Kivimäki Fiat Abarth 131 Rallye
6 Italy 20º Rallye Sanremo 1978 Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Stratos HF
7 Finland 29th 1000 Lakes Rally 1979 Ilkka Kivimäki Fiat Abarth 131 Rallye
8 Finland 30th 1000 Lakes Rally 1980 Ilkka Kivimäki Fiat Abarth 131 Rallye
9 Portugal 15º Rallye de Portugal Vinho do Porto 1981 Ilkka Kivimäki Fiat Abarth 131 Rallye
10 France 27éme Tour De Corse – Rallye de France 1983 Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Rally 037
11 Italy 25º Rallye Sanremo 1983 Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Rally 037
12 France 28ème Tour de Corse – Rallye de France 1984 Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Rally 037
13 United States 21st Olympus Rally 1986 Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Delta S4
14 Portugal 21º Rallye de Portugal Vinho do Porto 1987 Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Delta HF 4WD
15 Greece 34th Acropolis Rally 1987 Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Delta HF 4WD
16 Finland 37th 1000 Lakes Rally 1987 Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Delta HF 4WD
17 Sweden 38th International Swedish Rally 1988 Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Delta HF 4WD
18 Finland 38th 1000 Lakes Rally 1988 Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Delta Integrale
19 United Kingdom 37th Lombard RAC Rally 1988 Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Delta Integrale

References[edit]

  1. ^ According to World Rally Archive (http://www.juwra.com), Alén won 801 stages. Markku Alén also won special stages in the following rallies that are not yet taken into account by www.juwra.com : 15 stages in Sweden 1977 (source: Sport Auto n°182, March 1977), 5 stages in South Pacific 1977 (source: Auto Hebdo n°63, 19–26 May 1977), 1 stage in Safari 1990 (source: Auto Hebdo n°723, 18th April 1990). He won at least 18 scored stages in Press-on-regardless 1974 (source claiming he won 21 stages: http://www.realautosport.com/images/mcmahon/Rally%20Data/1974-75/74%20POR%20RT-02.jpg); source claiming he won 20 stages: http://www.realautosport.com/images/mcmahon/Rally%20Data/1974-75/74%20POR%20results-c.jpg; source showing he won 2 annulled stages: http://www.realautosport.com/images/mcmahon/Newsletters/Ralligator%20Bullsheet/74-11m.jpg. Moreover, he is said to have won 11 special stages in Sanremo 1974 although reliable sources are missing. Also, Markku Alén won 20 special stages in annulled Sanremo 1986 (source: Auto Hebdo n°545, 22 October 1986).
  2. ^ a b Hope-Frost, Henry; John Davenport (2004). The Complete Book of the World Rally Championship. MotorBooks/MBI Publishing Company. p. 65. ISBN 0-7603-1954-5. 
  3. ^ "Markku Alén". Suomen Moottoriurheilumuseo (in Finnish). Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  4. ^ “”. "Monte Carlo Rally '87". YouTube. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  5. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNDqJMTpnjk
  6. ^ "Markku Alén testaa luksus-Ferraria". Iltalehti (in Finnish). 5 October 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2011. 

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Juha Kankkunen
Autosport
International Rally Driver Award

1988
Succeeded by
Miki Biasion
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Sandro Munari
FIA Cup for Rally Drivers
Champion

1978
Succeeded by
Björn Waldegård
(World Rally Championship)
Records
Preceded by
Stig Blomqvist
26 years, 203 days
(1973 Swedish Rally)
Youngest Rally
Winner

24 years, 156 days
(1975 Rallye de Portugal)
Succeeded by
Henri Toivonen
24 years, 86 days
(1980 RAC Rally)
Preceded by
Hannu Mikkola
18 wins
(19731993)
Most Rally wins
19 wins,

19th at the 1988 RAC Rally
Succeeded by
Juha Kankkunen
23 wins,
20th at the 1993 RAC Rally