Voice of Sport

Makinen, the ‘Flying Finn’ who never won the Safari dies, aged 79

Like so many world class rally drivers then, Timo Makinen came a cropper in his attempts to win what was then the world’s toughest and one of the longest rallies, the East African Safari, which no foreigner conquered until Hannu Mikkola of Finland in 1972

Focused on top prize: Tapio Laukkanen of Finland said: ‘Things worked out right for us right from the official reconnaissance of the route to the actual competition. The car also behaved well on stages, which were twisty and fast’

 Timo Makinen at the East African Safari:

*1971: Ford Escort Twin-cam/ with Henry Liddon – (20th overall)

*1972: Ford Escort RS1600 MKI/Liddon – (8th overall)

1973: Ford Escort RS 1600 MKI/LiddonRetired, accident,  (Won Finland Rally & RAC Rally)

1974: Peugeot 504/John DavenportRetired, engine,  (2nd in Finland, won RAC)

1975: Peugeot 504/LiddonRetired, engine (5th Morocco, 3rd Finland 2nd Cote d’Ivoire, won RAC in Ford Escort RS 1800MKI)

1976: Peugeot 504 V6 Coupe/LiddonRetired, stuck in ford (4th Finland, 1st Total Rally South Africa, 1st Cote d’Ivoire)

1977: Peugeot 504 V6 Coupe/LiddonRetired, engine (11th RAC)

1978: Peugeot 504 V6 Coupe/Jean TodtRetired, suspension (2nd Core d’Ivoire, 4th South American Rally, 7th Portugal)

1979: Peugeot 504 V6 Coupe/Jean TodtRetired, differential

1981: Peugeot 504 V6 Coupe/Atso AhoRetired, clutch

Timo Makinen drove this Peugeot 504 V6 Coupe, car No.8, with Jean Todt, current President of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), in the 1979 East Africa Safari Rally. They retired with problems in the car’s differential. Winner that year was Shekhar Mehta and Mike Doughty in Datsun 160J

Timo Makinen drove this Peugeot 504 V6 Coupe, car No.8, with Jean Todt, current President of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), in the 1979 East African Safari Rally. They retired with problems in the car’s differential. Winner that year was Shekhar Mehta with Mike Doughty in a Datsun 160J

FINNISH rally legend Timo Makinen, known for his hat-tricks of international victories but who never won the tough East African Safari in 10 attempts, has died aged 79, local Finland media said on Friday.

Makinen, who was nicknamed “The Flying Finn” of motor rallying among several other prominent Finnish athletes, won the RAC [Royal Automobile Club] Rally (now named Wales Rally GB) three times in a row between 1973 and 1975, in a Ford Escort. But despite his blistering pace and popularity in the WRC [World Rally Championship] East African Safari Rally between 1971 and 1981 (missing only 1980), he never won the Safari, retiring most times, even when a likely winner in the closing stages.

The first ever foreign Safari winner since 1953 was Makinen’s fellow Finn Hannu Mikkola in 1972. It was also the year for Miken’s best finish (8th) of two finishes.

Born in Helsinki on March 18, 1938, Tomi Makinen’s death was announced by his son in a Facebook post late on Thursday, Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat reported, without specifying the exact cause.

Timo Makinen and Jean Todt, Peugeot 504 V6 Coupe, East Africa Safari Rally

Timo Makinen and Jean Todt, Peugeot 504 V6 Coupe, East African Safari Rally

Makinen drove a Mini Cooper S in the 1960s when he won the Monte Carlo Rally (1965), followed by three consecutive victories between 1965-1967 in the 1000 Lakes Rally, now named Rally Finland.

In the 1967 race, Makinen won despite having to drive with his head half stuck out of the Mini’s window because the leather stripes holding down the car’s bonnet broke.

Makinen’s helmet was too big for him to stick his head out completely so he had to skid the car sideways to see the road.

*PS: Earlier editions of this arcticle said Makinen never completed the Safari

– Additional reporting by Agencies