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Henri Toivonen
Henri Toivonen
Toivonen during his Martini Racing era

Nationality

Finnish

Born

25 August 1956

Died

2 May 1986 (aged 29)

World Rally Championship record

Active years

1975-1986

Teams

Talbot, Opel, Porsche, Lancia

Rallies

40

Championships

0

Rally wins

3

Podiums

9

Stage wins

185

Total points

194

Henri Pauli Toivonen (25 August 1956 - 2 May 1986) was a Finnish rally driver born in Jyväskylä, the home of Rally Finland. His father, Pauli Toivonen, was the 1968 European Rally Champion for Porsche and his brother, Harri Toivonen, became a professional circuit racer.

Toivonen's first World Rally Championship victory came with a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus at the 1980 Lombard RAC Rally in Great Britain, just after his 24th birthday. He had the record of being the youngest driver ever to win a world rally until his countryman Jari-Matti Latvala won the 2008 Swedish Rally at the age of 22. After driving for Opel and Porsche, Toivonen was signed by Lancia. Despite nearly ending up paralysed at the Rally Costa Smeralda early in 1985, he returned to rallying later that year. He won the last event of the season, the RAC Rally, as well as the 1986 season opener, the Monte Carlo Rally , which his father had won exactly 20 years earlier.

Toivonen, driving a Lancia Delta S4, died in a crash on 2 May 1986 while leading the Tour de Corse rally in Corsica. His American co-driver, Sergio Cresto , also died when the Lancia plunged down a ravine and exploded. The fatal accident had no close witnesses and the only remains of the car were the merely blacked spaceframe, making it impossible to determine the cause of the accident. Within hours of the accident, Jean-Marie Balestre, then President of the FISA, had banned the powerful Group B rally cars from competing the following season, ending rallying's popular supercar era.

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