1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally

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Mikkola's rally-winning Ford Escort.

The 1970 London-Mexico World Cup Rally was the first of two World Cup Rallies to be held and the second of four marathon rallies to be held in a nine-year period beginning with the 1968 London-Sydney Marathon. The motor rally started at Wembley Stadium in London on 19 April 1970 and finished in Mexico City on 27 May 1970, covering approximately 16,000 miles (25,700 km) through Europe and South America. It was won by Hannu Mikkola and Gunnar Palm, driving a Ford Escort.


The event was the brainchild of Wylton Dickson, possibly inspired by the earlier 1968 London-Sydney Marathon, and was to mark the fact that the 1966 FIFA World Cup had been held in London and that the upcoming 1970 FIFA World Cup was to be held in Mexico. Dickson approached the renowned British rally driver Paddy Hopkirk and together they went to The Daily Mirror for sponsorship.

The event was organised by members of the RAC and the MSA.

Route and scoring[edit]

The course covered approximately 16,000 miles (25,700 km) through Europe, South America and Central America. Two boats were need to convey the rally, one to cross the Atlantic Ocean from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro and a second from Buenaventura, Colombia across the Gulf of Panama to Panama to avoid the impassable Darién Gap. Some of the principal towns and cities visited were, in order:[1]

The course included many special stages, some over 500 miles (800 km) long. Time penalties were given for exceeding set times on the special stages, as well as for other infractions of the rules, and the cars' positions determined by the penalties awarded rather than lowest cumulative times.


Mikkola's Ford Escort prototype based on the RS1600, from the rear.

Over one hundred cars started the event. The rules about what cars could be entered were not restrictive but due to the demanding nature of the course most competitors were conservative and used modified versions of standard models. That did not prevent there being a wide variety of cars, from Volkswagen Beetles to Rolls-Royces. There were works (officially sanctioned and prepared) entries from Ford, British Leyland and Moskvitch, and semi-works entries from Citroën.

The Ford team ran modified Escort Mk Is, fitted with an 1850 cc version of the crossflow Kent engine and uprated with various other parts from other Ford models. Each Ford car had two drivers. The British Leyland team entered two teams. The first team ran three Triumph 2.5PI Mark 2s, which were more powerful than the Fords but were significantly heavier; two cars carried a three-man crew, Brian Culcheth preferring to stick with a conventional two-man crew. The second Leyland team ran Austin Maxis, Austin 1800s (some badged Morris) and a lone Mini Clubman. Citroën used the venerable DS21. Moskvich used the Moskvich 412 with 1500 cc engine.

Other cars run in the event included:


Many rally drivers of the day entered the event, including:

  • Rauno Aaltonen
  • Andrew Cowan (winner of the 1968 London-Sydney marathon)
  • Brian Culcheth
  • Tony Fall
  • Paddy Hopkirk
  • Timo Mäkinen
  • Hannu Mikkola
  • Jack Murray
  • Rene Trautmann
  • Guy Verrier
  • Gastón Perkins
  • Jose Migliore
  • Alcides Rodriguez (Peugeot #33)

As well as professional rally drivers, the event attracted a number of well known people, including the footballer Jimmy Greaves, who finished a very creditable sixth, and HRH Prince Michael of Kent, who failed to finish.[1]


1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally results[1]
Pos Driver Car Time Penalties
1 Hannu Mikkola / Gunnar Palm Ford Escort 1850GT 9hr 7min
2 Brian Culcheth / Johnstone Syer Triumph 2.5PI 10hr 25min
3 Rauno Aaltonen / Henry Liddon Ford Escort 1850GT 10hr 46min
4 Paddy Hopkirk / Tony Nash / Neville Johnston Triumph 2.5PI 12hr 26min
5 Timo Mäkinen / Gilbert Staepelaere Ford Escort 1850GT 14hr 31min
6 Jimmy Greaves / Tony Fall Ford Escort 1850GT 19hr 31min
7 Patrick Vanson / Oliveir Turcat / Alain Leprince Citroën DS21 22hr 3min
8 Sobiesław Zasada / Marek Wachowski Ford Escort 1850GT 23hr 59min
9 Reg Redgrave / Phil Cooper / Bob Freeborough Morris 1800 24hr 42min
10 Rosemary Smith / Alice Watson / Ginette Derolland Austin Maxi 30hr 35min
11 Ken Tubman / André Welenski / Rob McAuley Austin 1800 32hr 36min
12 Leonti Potapchik / Edouard Bazhenov / Y. Lesovski Moskvitch 412 34hr 6min
13 William Bendeck / Dieter Hubner / Jorge Burgoa BMW 2002ti 35hr 14min
14 Ron Channon / Rod Cooper Ford Lotus Cortina 36hr 43min
15 Alun Rees / Hywel Thomas / Washington James Hillman Hunter 37hr 50min
16 Alfred Katz / Alfred Kling / Albert Pfuhl Mercedes-Benz 280SE 38hr 5min
17 G. Holm/V. Boubnov/K.Guirdauskas Moskvitch 412 38hr 52min
18 Ms. J. Denton/Ms. P Wright/Ms. E. Crellin Morris 1800 39hr 16min
19 G. Perkins/J. Greene Peugeot 404 40hr 46min
20 S. Tenishev/V. Kislykh/V. Chirochenkov Moskvitch 412 41hr 5min
21 R. Janssen/J. Dik Datsun 1600SSS 46hr 1min
22 T. Kingsley/P. Evans/M.Scarlett Austin Maxi 46hr 25min
23 D. Harris/M. Butler Ford Escort GT 66hr 8min

Only 23 cars finished the event.


  1. ^ a b c World Cup Rally, Graham Robson, The Car magazine no. 25, 1985, Orbis Publishing Ltd.

External links[edit]