One of the great things the WRC has shown us the last few years is the ability for drivers to make returns for select events. For example, we had Marcus Gronholm make a cameo appearance at Rally Portugal last year and Rally Sweden this year. However not even that can top Juha Kankkunen and his attempt to run in the Rally Finland event that is coming up.
The four times WRC champion is making waves in the rally world as he sits on the very edge of making a comeback for Rally Finland a hefty 31 years after he first competed in Finland. The Finnish driver was able to collect the world championship in 1986, 87, 91, and 93. Jahu pretty much owned all the records during his time, winning his first title with Peugeot during the group B era. He was the youngest ever champion and a winner of 23 rallies over his brilliant career. If he is to compete (all signs point to yes) than he will run in a Ford Focus WRC machine with perhaps Nicky Grist. The two recently competed in a revival rally in Portugal in an Escort MkII and won the event with little opposition.
I think that all fans of rally can agree that having these stars comeback for one offs is very cool. There is talk that it could be for a few other events but the man is 51 years old so I am sure it will be an event by event basis for the champion. I think one of the motives for the drive is to get behind the wheel of a WRC machine before they are no more. Much like Ken Block’s reasoning for not going to a S2000 car first. So how about it rally fans? What do you think of past champions running in these events?
UPDATE: It has now been confirmed that Juha Kankkunen WILL be in Rally Finland and will be co-driven by Juha Repo. He is said to be targeting a top 10 finish and battle with Kimi Raikkonen. I don’t think a four time rally champion who still competes on a regular basis in international invite rallies will have many problems with a guy who crashes all the time and only performs well when he takes a WRC machine to a rally cross. Provided the Focus holds up, I don’t think this is an issue. END Kimi Bashing