Course de Pikes Peak – Ari Vatanen

Ari Vatanen (born April 27, 1952 in Tuupovaara) is a Finnish rally driver turned politician and Member of the European Parliament.

Vatanen was born and grew up in rural Tuupovaara in Eastern Finland. His debut year in professional rally was in 1970, and he became World Rally Champion in 1981 with Ford, at the wheel of an Escort RS1800. He has won the Paris-Dakar Rally three times with Peugeot, in 1987, 1989 and 1990, and again with Citroën in 1991. With Peugeot, he has also won the famous Pikes Peak International Hillclimb, after Peugeot stopped participating in the world rally championship series in 1986, due to the demise of Group B rally. Peugeot used the lessons learnt from its 205 T16 to create the 405 T16. With at least 600bhp, huge aerofoils, four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering, the talented Vatanen took the car up the hill in record time, his efforts being captured in the award-winning short film «Climb Dance».

Close to death after a major accident on the 1985 Argentinean Rally, whilst driving a Peugeot 205 T16, Ari spent 18 months winning a personal health battle over serious injury and depression, heightened by his fear that he had contracted AIDS from an infected blood transfusion. His return in 1987 saw him go on to win the Paris-Dakar Rally mentioned above and become the centre of controversy when his car was stolen whilst leading the same rally in 1988.

The Pikes Peak International Hillclimb also known as the The Race to the Clouds is an annual tarmac/gravel automobile and motorcycle hillclimb to the summit of Pikes Peak in Colorado, a distance of 19.99 km (12.42 miles) over 156 turns, climbing 1,439 metres from the start at Mile 7 on Pikes Peak Highway at 2,862 m on grades averging 7%.

Ari Vatanen
The Drivers of the Group B cars

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