Heikki Mikkola – The original flying Finn
Make no mistake, Finland has produced more motorsport world champions per capita than any nation on earth. When you think rallying, names of champions easily come to mind, guys like Ari Vatanen, Hannu Mikkola, Timo Salonen, Juha Kankkunen, Tommi Mäkinen, and Marcus Grönholm all rose to the top of the WRC. In the motorcycling off road equivalent, motocross, there is only one name, Heikki Mikkola.
Mikkola was the first Finnish rider to win the World Motocross Championship and he did it four times. Not only that, but he won his first 500cc title in 1974 on a Husqvarna, by defeating the legend, five times world champ Roger DeCoster in one of the fiercest battles in motocross history.
In 1976, he won the 250 cc World Championship, also aboard a Husky, becoming the first person to win a 250 cc and a 500 cc Motocross World Championship. For the 1977 season, Heikki signed with Yamaha and immediately delivered them a 500 cc World Championship. He defended his ttile, by dominating the 500cc competition again in 1978, to bring his tally of championships to four.
Mikkola struggled with injuries in 1979 and retired at seasons end,, after placing 5th.
Heikki Mikkola can be considered the most successful Finnish motorcycle racer of any discipline. During his 10-year career he won numerous national championships, clinched 32 Grand Prix victories and four world titles.
Images: Heikki Mikkola – The Lone Wolf