4 September 1945|
|Died||30 September 2009
Bray, United Kingdom
|World Rally Championship record|
|Active years||1973–90, 2003|
|Co-driver|| Ronan McNamee
|Teams||Privateer, Vauxhall, Rothmans Ford, Mitsubishi Ralliart, Martini Lancia, Nissan, Q8 Team Ford|
|First rally||1973 1000 Lakes Rally|
|First win||1989 Lombard RAC Rally|
|Last rally||2003 Wales Rally GB|
Pentti Airikkala (4 September 1945 – 30 September 2009) was one of the "Flying Finns" who dominated world rallying in the past four decades. His career was more sporadic than many of his contemporaries, and he competed in only three World Rally Championship (WRC) events regularly; the two Scandinavian rallies (the 1000 Lakes and the Swedish Rally) and the RAC Rally in the United Kingdom.
Airikkala was born in Helsinki, Finland. Most of his top flight competitive experience was behind the wheel of various rear wheel drive Vauxhall/Opels like the Chevette HS and Magnum coupé, but his greatest success came in the twilight of his career, when he exploited his local knowledge as a longtime UK resident to win the 1989 RAC Rally in a Group A Mitsubishi Galant VR-4. He is still the third oldest driver to win a WRC event.
Altogether he competed in 36 WRC events between 1973 and 1990, and a 37th in 2003, scoring 102 points and achieving a best of 9th overall in the 1981 Drivers' Championship. He also contested the British Rally Championship in the 1970s/80s, becoming British Rally Champion in 1979. Since retiring from full-time international competition he operated a highly successful rally driving school in Oxfordshire teaching left-foot braking, where his roster of pupils included subsequent World Champions Colin McRae and Richard Burns.
|1||38th Lombard RAC Rally||1989||Ronan McNamee||Mitsubishi Galant VR-4|
Complete WRC results
- Pentti Airikkala, 'Flying Finns' website
- Hope-Frost, Henry; Davenport, John (2004). The Complete Book of the World Rally Championship. Saint Paul, Minnesota: MotorBooks International. p. 62. ISBN 0-7603-1954-5.
- 38th Lombard RAC Rally, Final classification, Rallybase.nl website
- 1981 World Rally Championship for Drivers, Final classification, Rallybase.nl
- Pentti's Champion Pupils, leftfootbraking.com
- "Rally star Airikkala dies". autosport.com. Haymarket Publications. 2009-01-10. Retrieved 2009-01-10.