Juha Kankkunen (44) is one of rallying’s all-time greats. No matter what the achievements of the generations to come, his record of four world championships and 23 world rally victories will endure as one of the most impressive in the history of the sport.
At Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2004 he is reunited with the Celica he used to win his fourth world title.
Juha began rallying in 1978 in a Ford Escort RS2000 and the following year made his WRC debut in the Finnish round of the championship. He campaigned a Toyota Celica TCT in selected rounds of the 1983 and 1984 series and went on to score his first victory on the 1985 Safari Rally. A further win on the Ivory Coast Rally helped him towards fifth place in the drivers’ championship at the end of the season.
In 1986 Juha’s outstanding abilities earned him the ultimate prize of the drivers’ title, piloting his Peugeot 205 T16 to three rally wins. The following year he was more impressive still, moving to Lancia and never finishing lower than fifth in his Delta HF on his way to a second successive title.
A difficult debut season for Toyota ensued in the Celica 2000GT in 1988, but the change to the Celica GT-4 yielded better results the following year, Juha completing the season in third place overall. He achieved the same result on his return to Lancia in 1990 and was world champion once more with the Italian marque in 1991, amassing five rally victories.
A third year with Lancia in 1992 saw him finish as runner-up to champion Carlos Sainz. As Carlos moved to Lancia for 1993, so Juha returned to Toyota and powered his way to his fourth world title. In spite of scoring six podium finishes in 1994, Juha was placed only third in that year’s championships.
Juha drove his final year for Toyota in 1996, moving on to two seasons for Ford, both of which yielded no rally wins, but fourth place in the championship thanks to his supreme consistency. His final two full WRC seasons were spent at the wheel of a works Subaru Impreza in 1999 and 2000.