Björn Waldegård 1943 - 2014

Swedish rally legend Björn Waldegård, winner of the inaugural World Rally Championship for drivers in 1979 has sadly died at the age of 71. He was born on 12 November 1943 at Solna in Sweden and was currently living at Rimbo. Following his debut in 1962, his distinguished rally career spanned four decades and, after winning the Swedish Rally Championship in 1967 & '68, he continued to compete at the top level of the sport until 1992, when a badly broken arm suffered during a crash on the Safari Rally that year forced his retirement.

Waldegård's first international victory came at the wheel of a Porsche 911 on the 1969 Monte Carlo Rally and he scored his last for Toyota on the 1990 Safari, which made him the oldest driver to win a World Rally Championship, a record he held until his death.

In the mid-70s' Waldegård took part in the newly created European Championship with a privately entered Porsche Carrera RSR and his best overall result was to become the Runner-up to Austrian Franz Wurz, father of Alexander Wurz, of the 1974 Embassy European Rallycross Championship.

The Alitalia-backed Lancia team of the 1970s frequently choose between star drivers Waldegård and Italian Sandro Munari and they came head to head in the 1976 Rallye Sanremo rally after Waldegård had built a four-second lead over Munari entering the final stage. Team orders dictated that he squander that advantage to keep the team's hopes for an 'equal' shootout. Waldegård, however, emerged as victor by four seconds, having disobeyed team orders and overtaken Munari but as a result, Waldegård left Lancia and joined Ford in late 1976!

Driving Ford Escort RS1800 models, Waldegård won three of the world's most punishing rallies in 1977; the East African Safari Rally, the Acropolis Rally, and the RAC Rally before later winning the inaugural World Rally Championship series in 1979 for Ford and Mercedes-Benz, beating Hannu Mikkola to the overall championship on the final round at the Rallye Côte d'Ivoire in the Ivory Coast, by finishing second behind his close rival!

Waldegård participated in a total of 95 world rallies between 1973 and 1992, scoring a total of 16 overall world championship rally victories during his remarkable career. Despite retiring from the WRC at the conclusion of '92, he continued to live and breathe the sport and at the age of 68, he took overall victory in the East African Safari Classic, piloting a Porsche 911. Waldegård drove a Toyota on the rally stage at the Goodwood Festival of Speed earlier this year and was due to appear at the annual Rallyday event at Castle Combe circuit on September 20th.

A true legend of the sport who will be sorely missed and the International Rally Drivers Club extends its condolences to his family and many friends.

29th August, 2014