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Who is the bravest rally driver of them all ?


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#1 AAGR

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Posted 18 November 2018 - 15:50

  That's a question I was recently asked at a motor sporting forum. I was stumped for a time, trying to analyse 'bravest', but in the end I had to choose a combination of ultra-fast, aggressive, and against-the-odds circumstances.

 

  My answer was - either Colin McRae, or Ari Vatanen.

 

Comments ?

 

 



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#2 Rob Ryder

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Posted 18 November 2018 - 16:04

Robert Kubica

#3 opplock

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Posted 18 November 2018 - 16:10

But not half as brave as their co-drivers? 



#4 D-Type

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Posted 18 November 2018 - 16:16

Constantine John Manussis,



#5 Henri Greuter

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Posted 18 November 2018 - 16:20

May I nominate Henri Toivonen?

 

Not because of the christian name but based on the fact that in a number of polls and/or surveys the Lancia Delta S4 is rated as the most insane rally car ever built. And Henri was the one driver who got the most out of that car and after his demise the Delta S4 did not live up to its potential anymore.



#6 guiporsche

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Posted 18 November 2018 - 16:45

A bit off-topic but any excuse is good to reminisce about Henri Toivonen and the Lancias. There's on Youtube a fairly recent Finnish interview (subtitled) with Markku Alén where he drives both the 037 and the S4. The 037, he says, fit like a glove, but with the S4 he was only fully confident on the dirt. On tarmac, Alén says he never went 100% - 'sometimes it was on God's hands'.

 

I would second Henri's nomination of Toivonen, with Vatanen ex-aequo and Markku third.. 

 

 



#7 2F-001

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Posted 18 November 2018 - 17:30

Tony Pond was not entirely lacking in this department.



#8 Bloggsworth

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Posted 18 November 2018 - 17:34

How does one distinguish between the brave and the, quite frankly, loony...



#9 AAGR

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Posted 18 November 2018 - 19:26

Marvellous to see so many different opinions, so soon.

 

The point being that multi-world champions - like Ogier, Loeb and Walter Rohrl -  all come across as superb, incredibly talented and successful characters, but don't let sheer bravery get in their way. 

 

Rather like comparing. in F1, Alain Prost with - say - Nigel Mansell......


Edited by AAGR, 18 November 2018 - 19:35.


#10 AJCee

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Posted 18 November 2018 - 19:46

Why does there have to be a bravest?

#11 Henri Greuter

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Posted 18 November 2018 - 20:08

Marvellous to see so many different opinions, so soon.

 

The point being that multi-world champions - like Ogier, Loeb and Walter Rohrl -  all come across as superb, incredibly talented and successful characters, but don't let sheer bravery get in their way. 

 

Rather like comparing. in F1, Alain Prost with - say - Nigel Mansell......

 

 

 

Now you mention it, I must admit that maybe I should not have nominated a driver after all.

 

I don't follow rallying anymore for, by now a long time. Several reasons for that: the cars used since, say 2000 don't appeal to me anymore, the formats of the rally's themselves.

I also miss my favourite brand in rallying (Lancia) dearly.

 

Because of all of that, I haven't followed rallying anymore in the past 10 to 15 years. So I may well have missed out on drivers who are/were at least as brave as those men of the 70s and 80s and erly 90s I still remember so fondly.

I don't know for sure but there is indeed a good chance I'm doing some of the more recent heroes not the justice they deserve.

But somehow, I can't bring myself into finding out about this yes or no.



#12 LittleBertha

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Posted 18 November 2018 - 20:33

Dave Jenkins

 

Too brave for his nav on the RAC who decamped the Healey at the first opportunity



#13 john aston

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Posted 19 November 2018 - 08:19

I have no idea, in the context of motor sport, what bravery constitutes . It's one of those portmanteau  terms of approbation we apply to people we like  and is thus near meaningless in most contexts . If pinned down on what bravery is I'd say 'Niki Lauda, Monza 1976 . Next question ?'

 

So with that caveat, and on the basis of what I have seen for myself from the side of a special stage I would nominate three drivers for sheer commitment  -

 

Ari Vatanen - I saw him on one of his first UK rallies , the Rodgers  Carpets if memory serves, in Cropton forest., 1976 I think  Nobody  has ever, could ever, have driven an Opel Ascona faster 

 

Colin Grewer  - aka Mad Dan. He was a York driver who often ran high up in the RAC before the inevitable  crash . His commitment -in a Volvo 122S  or Mk 1 Cortina with Volvo engine - was jaw dropping  

   

Per Eklund - one incident in about 1984 , Night , thick fog at one of the forests above Helmsley. Per was in the rwd Corolla . Every driver set off from start of stage in the usual flurry of wheelspin and revs until they realised they couldn't see a thing and backed off by the time they got to third gear. Per ? Flat out , peak revs in every gear and not a lift. Brave and skilled co driver.. :up: . Never forgot it     



#14 Ristin

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Posted 19 November 2018 - 09:55

Marvellous to see so many different opinions, so soon.
 
The point being that multi-world champions - like Ogier, Loeb and Walter Rohrl -  all come across as superb, incredibly talented and successful characters, but don't let sheer bravery get in their way. 
 
Rather like comparing. in F1, Alain Prost with - say - Nigel Mansell......


Really? That Arganil stage was for cowards, then?

I'd say they were all incredibly brave. Dancing on the edge of the knife with 100s of horsepowers under their right foot. I love a lurid drift more than anything else, but that does not constiture braveness.

#15 F1matt

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Posted 19 November 2018 - 11:10

Should this be renamed who is your favourite rally driver? 

 

For me it has to be someone from the Group B days, the cars were at their wildest, the crowd control was almost non existent, the rally were usually a marathon 5 days long, and safety was a low priority, Lancia's emptying of the fire extinguishers to save weight is proof of that. 

 

Toivonen was my all time favourite driver but anyone from that era must fit the bill. 



#16 Mark 13

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Posted 19 November 2018 - 12:17

Purely for his incredible car control, I would nominate Pentti Airikkala.

 

I can remember him first appearing in the UK, I think in an Opel Ascona and leading the RAC in a semi-works (Sutton)  Escort (White/Red), before finally winning in the Mitsubishi Starion with 4 wheel steering.

 

I got the feeling that he was always close to the limit and confident that he could handle any situation that arose. I know he was considered arrogant by some people but I always found him approachable.


Edited by Mark 13, 19 November 2018 - 15:29.


#17 BRG

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Posted 19 November 2018 - 17:55

This is really an impossible question.  ALL sucessful rally drivers are by definition brave, as are many of the less successful ones.   Pushing on hard on a slippery narrow track - be it snow, gravel or tarmac - lined with trees or rock faces or sheer drops, with only your pace notes to tell you whether this blind corner coming up is almost flat or a hairpin. takes extreme nerve.

 

But as a co-driver, I have rarely been very nervous.  I always worked on the principle that the driver wanted to get home in one piece as much as I did.  There were always a few moments when you knew that things were at or beyond the limit of course.

 

No-one can drive beyond the limit of their abilities, at least not for very long.  So in a way, if you are within your ability limit, you are not being brave.  Maybe!

 

Having said that, the answer is Colin McRae.  Or Ari Vatanen. Or.......



#18 MartLgn

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Posted 19 November 2018 - 18:32

May I nominate Henri Toivonen?

 

Not because of the christian name but based on the fact that in a number of polls and/or surveys the Lancia Delta S4 is rated as the most insane rally car ever built. And Henri was the one driver who got the most out of that car and after his demise the Delta S4 did not live up to its potential anymore.

I wholeheartedly agree, the Delta S4 was by all accounts a fuel tank with a rocket attached, they never sorted the handling before Gp B was outlawed so for Henri to push the envelope as he did certainly gets my vote :clap:



#19 D-Type

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Posted 19 November 2018 - 20:03

I nominated John Manussis as he was considered the top East African driver in the early 1950s when the Safari was founded.  Driving absolutely bog-standard cars (as required by the Safari regulations) absolutely flat out on the East African "roads" of the time must have taken a lot of courage..



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#20 Cynic2

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 01:15

. . .

T,his is really an impossible question. ALL sucessful rally drivers are by definition brave, as are many of the less successful ones. Pushing on hard on a slippery narrow track - be it snow, gravel or tarmac - lined with trees or rock faces or sheer drops, with only your pace notes to tell you whether this blind corner coming up is almost flat or a hairpin. takes extreme nerve.

There are also some Interesting (I don't think "amusing" is the right word) stories of missing a page in the route instructions/pace notes.

#21 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 06:06

I nominate a couple of Aussies, very good but also crashed quite a lot. Geoff Portman and a few less crashes Ross Dunkerton.

Both on their days very quick, both won a lot of events. 

The 1979 Repco Trial Portman had upended the Stanza at least once before the first major stop here in Adelaide.  But was one of the first too arrive. From memory he rolled it in every state!! Ross stayed upright and slower though was in a Volvo though that car too had plenty of scars. Yet the event was won by a very well funded road racer on holiday!

McRae and Vattanen were both similar and for mine not really any quicker. Just better financed which is what you need when you crash a lot!

Plenty of drivers around  as good or even marginally better and a good deal more circumspect world wide. But not quite as mad!!



#22 GeoffR

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 11:30

For me pretty much anyone who drove a Group B car back in the day. Not only were they overpowered, ill handling beasts, but they also had to allow for spectators parting like a human wave as they still drove flat out. Compared to the 'sanitary' conditions of modern WRC cars/stages, they were the true heroes of rally drivers. Some great videos on Youtube as what it was like back then, late '80s in particular. For example ......

 


Edited by GeoffR, 04 December 2018 - 11:33.


#23 RS2000

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 19:27

For me pretty much anyone who drove a Group B car back in the day.


Nice to be someone's hero.
I drove a Group B car on Internationals back in the day - but, like the overwhelming majority of Group B cars, it was a mundane re-homologated car from the previous Appendix J.

Bravest rally driver? Some amateurs who were risking everything in their own self-built cars that, if destroyed, would take up their entire lives for the foreseeable future to replace, if they ever wanted to see the start line of a rally again.

#24 D-Type

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 19:53

Bravest rally driver? Some amateurs who were risking everything in their own self-built cars that, if destroyed, would take up their entire lives for the foreseeable future to replace, if they ever wanted to see the start line of a rally again.

A good point!



#25 bradbury west

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 20:10

If we take bravest to include most fearless, semantics, I know, I would suggest Pat Moss winning the Liege in XJB. Saying that, dear old Rupert Jones, RIP, told me that David Seigle-Morris was the fastest person he ever saw in a rallying Healey 3000.
Roger Lund

#26 Doug Nye

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 21:14

Best I ever saw - though I readily admit I didn't see many - was Ari Vatanen.  Most certifiable - which is a different thing - was Colin McRae.  Most talented all round whom I have never seen in person must be Sebastian Loeb.

 

BUT I always heard great things about Juha Kankkunen...who was described to me by one trusted rally-scene regular as more 'Yahoo' than Juha.  Would that be right Graham?

 

DCN


Edited by Doug Nye, 04 December 2018 - 21:15.


#27 JtP2

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 22:02

Bravest could = least imaginative.

 

Easy to be brave, harder to stay on the road.



#28 AAGR

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 23:28

Well now, didn't I uncork a can of worms when I started his thread ? I'd better round it off by answering DCN with the opinion (first-hand comments, relayed to me, by several world-class co-drivers) that Juha was never quite as balls-to-the-wall, or as ludicrously committted, as some of those already mentioned .... 



#29 Myhinpaa

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 00:25

If we take bravest to include most fearless, semantics, I know, I would suggest Pat Moss winning the Liege in XJB. Saying that, dear old Rupert Jones, RIP, told me that David Seigle-Morris was the fastest person he ever saw in a rallying Healey 3000.
Roger Lund

 

David Seigle-Morris was running 1st on the road on the '62 Coupes des Alpes and had a bit of a fright in the long sweeping bends leading up to the climb on Mount Ventoux.

While flat out in his Healey he met a lady in her Renault Dauphine coming unsuspectingly towards him on the stage. Which was supposed to be closed, but this being France.....

However he managed to avoid the little Renault passing each other at a combined speed of 140 mph + and carried on unabated.

 

On the following service point Peter Riley in the following works Healey asked what David had done to that lady with a little girl in a Renault.

This time the car was parked well off the road at a peculiar angle with the lady sitting on a rock with her head in her hands while being comforted by the little girl...

 

Seigle-Morris seems brave in the more traditional sense like with the RAF fighter pilots in WW2 etc. He won that Coupes des Alpes btw.

 

Vatanen, McRae, Toivonen and Alen on occasions (first day 1000 Lakes) seems more "crazy" and the bravery seemed to be secondary once

they got into "the zone". Airikkala was mentioned here and he seemed "braver" as sheer commitment  seemed to have more to do with his speed than craziness!?

But this is really as impossible to rate correctly together with "Best Grand Prix Driver Ever" etc.etc.

 

However give a thought for the co-drivers, Terry Harryman, Maurizio Perissinot...., or Christian Geistdorfer on the Arganil stage in 1980.

 

Kankkunen seemed very stoic but very committed with a wicked sense of humour. Allegedly, on his first Safari rally out of Nairobi co-driver Fred Gallagher

called "Straight on at the roundabout". Juha took it literally and drove straight over the island, when Fred pointed out to him out to him

that it wasn't meant to be taken literally Juha replied : "Ahh, good to know..."



#30 Glengavel

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 07:39

I don't think Erik Carlsson's been mentioned; his avowal that the "road must go somewhere" indicates a certain fearlessness.

#31 Michael Ferner

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 15:00

Never been much of a rallying fan, though I did follow the sport at the beginning of my motorsport "disease". But, to me the sentiment expressed above ("... to allow for spectators parting like a human wave as they still drove flat out") has absolutely nothing to do with braveness - how "brave" does one need to be to be prepared to mow down dozens of spectators in the pursuit of glory? That's just ruthlessness, and has given motor sport as a whole a bad name. I wouldn't shed a single tear if rallying was banned altogether.

#32 RS2000

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 16:16

Not sure where to rank D S-M but if considering Healey drivers, Pat Moss is on record as saying: "Only Timo ever tamed the Big Healey".

(Makinen, of course)(just to be clear, since Timo Salonen is currently being rightly castigated on another forum for being a primary cause of the RAC Rally becoming "office hours rallying" 1986 onwards.

Edited by RS2000, 05 December 2018 - 16:23.


#33 RogerFrench

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 17:09

I remember watching Timo Makinen in the big Healey in Clocaenog in 1965, and being hugely impressed. I think you'd have to be fearless to get a 2nd place in the R.A.C. in that car.

#34 bradbury west

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 20:07

Back to Healeys. I recall the report of DS-M being blindingly quick in the Healey at Spa in the Tulip at the time when they had just started running the full house 200bhp engines, were they on Webers?
OT, I would love to have been a fly in the Healey cockpit when Timo was doing the Monte with Christabel Carlisle.
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#35 AAGR

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 21:38

That's an oddity, for according to my records, Seigle-Morris never tackled the Tulip Rally in a Big Healey. Maybe bradbury west is thinking of Donald Morley, who was fastest of them all on tarmac ....

 

And yes, in 'full house' trim, the 3000 ran on three dual choke Webers, with an aluminium cylinder head



#36 BRG

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 22:31

I wouldn't shed a single tear if rallying was banned altogether.

The 1980s are just so last century nowadays.  Things are different today. 

 

Motor racing was pretty bloody too back in the day.  Le Mans 1955 for instance. Or those lethal road races on the 1900s. Would you shed a tear if it was banned because of the past?



#37 Michael Ferner

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 22:38

Acually no, I don't follow racing any longer.

#38 bradbury west

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 23:33

Thank you, Graham.
Talking of Carlsson and " the road must go somewhere..", at the FoS a couple of years ago I was in conversation with one of the old Hepworth team about David rallying a blue 3000, 2200UB in the 63 Yorkshire Rally, and a story emerged about one of their pals, in an MGA, I think. He too believed the road went "somewhere" and on the night rallies over the Yorkshire moors etc he regularly relied on the lines of telephone poles alongside the road for advance indication of where the road went. Dark at night, middle of nowhere, narrow roads, Lucas Flamethrowers heaving light for quite a distance, albeit on a very moving vehicle, our driver saw the poles going straight on in the distance, flat out along a good , but slightly undulating straight, and suddenly, whilst the poles carried on in a straight line, the road did a 90 right. Our driver ended up in a roll , traversing a ploughed field, since the poles were leading the cables to the nearby farmhouse. The road continued around the farmer's field.
Sorry a bit OT.
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#39 Myhinpaa

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 00:30

Deceptively positioned telegraph poles after a brow on Lankamaa have tricked many rally drivers through the years, even when on pace notes!

 

Like here : https://youtu.be/CZBjMtFnDjs?t=39   It being just a few clicks from the Kankkunen's farm Juha never been in that ditch, or lake....

 

At least not complete with his car that is!

 

Agree 100% about Timo and his handling of the Healey, Very close to winning the '65 RAC until he was unable to get up a steep hill in the snow.

Rauno managed to sneak past him on that very hill to win the rally. Remember Tony Fall telling a funny story about when Timo took him out

in a Healey during a recce. Timo attention was on a pen rolling round on the floor when this sharp bend loomed, to Tony's great concern.

 

Timo himself on the "Bonnet Incident" on Ouninpohja in '67 https://www.youtube....h?v=5fV6fUR3OeU

 

And Markku's tribute to Timo in 2015 : https://youtu.be/6uXXM36C5Jg?t=56


Edited by Myhinpaa, 06 December 2018 - 00:31.


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#40 proviz

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 08:28

Best I ever saw - though I readily admit I didn't see many - was Ari Vatanen.  Most certifiable - which is a different thing - was Colin McRae.  Most talented all round whom I have never seen in person must be Sebastian Loeb.

 

BUT I always heard great things about Juha Kankkunen...who was described to me by one trusted rally-scene regular as more 'Yahoo' than Juha.  Would that be right Graham?

 

DCN

 

A couple of people who'd sat beside several star names have said they never felt as safe in a rally car as they did with Juha Kankkunen.



#41 JtP2

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 12:03

A point is that top rally driver's speed does not come from bravery, it comes from skill and talent. What might seem brave to others is simply a demonstration of their abilities. The bravest rally drivers are the ones you have never heard of, simply because they never reach the top, only the first ditch.



#42 Charlieman

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 12:19

Isn't bravery a one or two stage thing? If a driver was constantly running at 100% on a rally lasting three days, s/he'd chuck the car into the muck from sheer exhaustion. An endurance rally requires endurance, intelligence and occasional bravery...

 

I most admire drivers performing well in cars unsuited to the event. Like the Group 2/4 era Quattros at Portugal and Acropolis in 1982, when Michele Mouton won in a car too big for hairpin bends.