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1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally

The 1970 London-Mexico World Cup Rally was the first of two World Cup Rallies to be held and the second of four marathon rallies to be held in a nine-year period beginning with the 1968 London-Sydney Marathon. The motor rally started at Wembley Stadium in London on 19 April 1970 and finished in Mexico City on 27 May 1970, covering approximately 16,000 miles (25,700 km) through Europe and South America. It was won by Hannu Mikkola and Gunnar Palm, driving a Ford Escort.

1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally
Daily Mirror World Cup Rally
Host countryUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Mexico Mexico
Rally baseLondon
Mexico City
Dates run19 April – 27 May 1970
Stage surfaceTarmac and Gravel
Overall distance25,700 km (16,000 miles)
Overall winnerFinland Hannu Mikkola
Sweden Gunnar Palm
United Kingdom Daily Telegraph-Ford Motor Company Limited
Crews96 at start, 23 at finish
Mikkola's rally-winning Ford Escort.



The event was the brainchild of Wylton Dickson, possibly inspired by the earlier 1968 London-Sydney Marathon, and was to mark the fact that the 1966 FIFA World Cup had been held in London and that the upcoming 1970 FIFA World Cup was to be held in Mexico. Dickson approached the renowned British rally driver Paddy Hopkirk and together they went to The Daily Mirror for sponsorship.

The event was organised by members of the RAC and the MSA.

Route and scoringEdit

The course covered approximately 16,000 miles (25,700 km) through Europe, South America and Central America. Two boats were need to convey the rally, one to cross the Atlantic Ocean from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro and a second from Buenaventura, Colombia across the Gulf of Panama to Panama to avoid the impassable Darién Gap. Some of the principal towns and cities visited were, in order:[1]

The course included many special stages, some over 500 miles (800 km) long. Time penalties were given for exceeding set times on the special stages, as well as for other infractions of the rules, and the cars' positions determined by the penalties awarded rather than lowest cumulative times.


Mikkola's Ford Escort prototype based on the RS1600, from the rear.

Over one hundred cars started the event. The rules about what cars could be entered were not restrictive but due to the demanding nature of the course most competitors were conservative and used modified versions of standard models. That did not prevent there being a wide variety of cars, from Volkswagen Beetles to Rolls-Royces. There were works (officially sanctioned and prepared) entries from Ford, British Leyland and Moskvitch, and semi-works entries from Citroën.

The Ford team ran modified Escort Mk Is, fitted with an 1850 cc version of the crossflow Kent engine and uprated with various other parts from other Ford models. Each Ford car had two drivers. The British Leyland team entered two teams. The first team ran three Triumph 2.5PI Mark 2s, which were more powerful than the Fords but were significantly heavier; two cars carried a three-man crew, Brian Culcheth preferring to stick with a conventional two-man crew. The second Leyland team ran Austin Maxis, Austin 1800s (some badged Morris) and a lone Mini Clubman. Citroën used the venerable DS21. Moskvich used the Moskvich 412 with 1500 cc engine.

Other cars run in the event included:


Many rally drivers of the day entered the event, including:

  • Rauno Aaltonen
  • Roger Clark
  • Andrew Cowan (winner of the 1968 London-Sydney marathon)
  • Brian Culcheth
  • Tony Fall
  • Paddy Hopkirk
  • Timo Mäkinen
  • Hannu Mikkola
  • Jack Murray
  • Gilbert Staepelaere
  • Rene Trautmann
  • Guy Verrier
  • Gastón Perkins
  • Jose Migliore
  • Alcides Rodriguez (Peugeot #33)

As well as professional rally drivers, the event attracted a number of well known people, including the footballer Jimmy Greaves, who finished a very creditable sixth, and HRH Prince Michael of Kent, who failed to finish.[1]


Pos No Entrant Drivers Car Penalties (Time)
1 18   Daily Telegraph-Ford Motor Company Limited   Hannu Mikkola
  Gunnar Palm
Ford Escort 1850 GT Mark I 9hr 7min
2 88   British Leyland Cars-The Football Association   Brian Culcheth
  Johnstone Syer
Triumph 2.5 PI Mark II 10hr 25min
3 46   Daily Express-Ford Motor Company Limited   Rauno Aaltonen
  Henry Liddon
Ford Escort 1850 GT Mark I 10hr 46min
4 98   British Leyland Cars-The Football Association   Paddy Hopkirk
  Tony Nash
  Neville Johnson
Triumph 2.5 PI Mark II 12hr 26min
5 103   Daily Telegraph-Ford Motor Company Limited   Timo Mäkinen
  Gilbert Staepelaere
Ford Escort 1850 GT Mark I 14hr 31min
6 26   Springfield Boys Club-Ford Motor Company Limited   Jimmy Greaves
  Tony Fall
Ford Escort 1850 GT Mark I 19hr 31min
7 100   Societe d’Encouragement de Automobile France   Patrick Vanson
  Olivier Turcat
  Alain Leprince
Citroën DS 21 22hr 3min
8 14   Ford Motor Company Limited   Sobiesław Zasada
  Marek Wachowski
Ford Escort 1850 GT Mark I 23hr 59min
9 54   Robert Redgrave   Robert 'Red' Redgrave
  Phil Cooper
  Bob Freeborough
BMC 1800 24hr 42min
10 74   Evening Standard-British Leyland Cars   Rosemary Smith
  Alice Watson
  Ginette Derolland
Austin Maxi 30hr 35min
11 32   BLMC Australia   Ken Tubman
  Andre Welinski
  Robert McAuley
Austin Maxi 32hr 36min
12 28   Avtoexport   Leonti Potapchik
  Edouard Bazhenov
  Youri Lesovski
Moskvitch 412 34hr 6min
13 29   Bolivian National Team   William Bendek
  Dieter Hubner
  Jorge Burgoa
BMW 2002 Ti 35hr 14min
14 15   Temple Meads Motors   Ron Channon
  Rod Cooper
Ford Cortina GT Mark II 36hr 43min
15 83   W.G. James   Alun Rees
  Hywel Thomas
  Washington James
Hillman Hunter 37hr 50min
16 38   Fixo-Flex Sports Team   Alfred Katz
  Alfred Kling
  Albert Pfuhl
Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 38hr 5min
17 71   Avtoexport   Gounnar Khlom
  Vladimir Boubnov
  Kastitis Guiradouskas
Moskvitch 412 38hr 52min
18 91   Woman Magazine   Jean Denton
  Pat Wright
  Liz Crellin
BMC 1800 39hr 16min
19 66   SAFRAR-Peugeot Argentina   Gaston Perkins
  Jack Forrest Greene
Peugeot 404 40hr 46min
20 19   Avtoexport   Sergei Tenichev
  Valentin Kislykh
  Valeri Chirotchenkov
Moskvitch 412 41hr 5min
21 31   Rob Janssen   Rob Janssen
  Jaap Dik
Datsun 1600 SSS 46hr 1min
22 96   Autocar-British Leyland Cars   Terry Kingsley
  Peter Evans
  Michael Scarlett
Austin Maxi 46hr 25min
23 45   Doug Harris   Doug Harris
  Mike Butler
Ford Escort 1300 GT Mark I 66hr 8min
Source:[2] [3]


  1. ^ a b World Cup Rally, Graham Robson, The Car magazine no. 25, 1985, Orbis Publishing Ltd.
  2. ^ Philip Young & Ted Taylor. "Final Entry List".
  3. ^ Graham Robson, The Daily Mirror World Cup Rally 40: The World’s Toughest Rally in Retrospect, 2010, pages 195-196

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