Today marks the XNUMXth anniversary of the death of legendary rally driver and Toyota Team Europe boss Ove Andersson. He belongs in the hall of fame of motorsport. Ove Andersson has been the driving force behind Toyota's competition activities for over thirty years, and under him the Japanese manufacturer grew in that regard. He also made an impression as a driver, and he built a great career.
Ove Andersson was born in 1938 in Uppsala, Sweden. He spent his childhood in the Swedish countryside. This is where his love for technology and fast machines started. Moreover, Andersson himself was also blessed with the necessary racing talent. Before that came to fruition, Andersson was doing his military service with the UN peacekeepers in the Gaza Strip.
Debut, with help from Söderström
In the late XNUMXs he returned to Sweden. He focused on Saab repairs and came into contact with motorsport. During that time, a comrade suggested we ride a local rally together. Andersson said 'yes', and the duo finished sixth in the Roslagsvalsen. Andersson got more and more in the grip of rally driving. Rally driver Bengt Söderström helped him on his way. Seven years older, Söderström had been active for some time and supported Andersson so that he could take the next step in his rally career.
International debut and growth
On June 11, 1963, the Swede made his international debut in the Svenska Rallyt to Midnattsolen, which counted for the European Rally Championship, With navigator Gunnar Wiman he finished fifth in the Mini Cooper S. From 1964 Andersson raced with many Saab. He performed well for two years and Lancia noticed that. From 1966 Andersson drove for the Italians. He broke through internationally, with podium finishes in the 1966 and 1967 Rallye Monte Carlo. He even won the 1967 RACE Rallye de España, with the Fulvia Rallye and co-driver Davenport. It was his first international victory. It was then that he got his nickname Påven, because Vatican City was a shareholder of Lancia. And Påven is Swedish for the pope.
From 1968 he drove for Ford. There he continued his advance. With Roger Clark, he finished tenth in the 1968 Daily Express London-Sydney Marathon in the Ford Cortina Lotus. The duo rode in the front for a long time, but after some setback the Swedish-British team found themselves in tenth place. Andersson finished second in the Tulpenrallye in 1968 (with Davenport). He won the International Welsh Rally in 1969. And he came third in the 1970 Acropolis Rally. He always achieved these results with the Escort Twin Cam.
Top year 1971 with Alpine-Renault
In 1971 Ove Andersson had his best year as a rally driver. He had switched to Alpine-Renault. Andersson won four rallies that year in the A110 1600. With co-driver David Stone (who later played a role in the contact between Andersson and Toyota) he took first place in Monte Carlo. He won Sanremo with Tony Nash. And with compatriot Arne Hertz he triumphed in the Austrian Alpenfahrt and in the Acropolis rally. In 1971 Alpine-Renault won the constructors' title of the International Championship for Manufacturers, the WRC predecessor, mainly thanks to these victories. The drivers' title was not yet awarded, but Andersson's reign in 1971 was recognized by everyone.
The first contacts with Toyota, trips with great results
During the 1972 season Andersson also drove for the French, but he sometimes also had a other send in hands. Like in the Rali Internacional do BNU in Mozambique. He drove this on invitation - together with Arne Hertz - in the Toyota Celica. The rally was Anderssons' first race with a Toyota. In 1972, Ove Andersson also signed his first contract with the Japanese, a historic milestone. The Swede made his official Toyota debut at the Daily Mirror RAC Rally that year. With Geraint Phillips he drove the Toyota Celica to place nine. Påven still had his brand forays. In 1973 he did fine business with current FIA boss Jean Todt in the Rallye Monte Carlo (Alpine-Renault) and in the very tough Safari Rally (Peugeot 504).
The beginning of TTE
That year, Påven also founded Andersson Motorsport in Dannemora, Sweden, partly to properly organize participations in (European) events with Toyotas. Andersson became team boss and remained a driver. In 1974 Andersson Motorsport moved to Lot in Belgium. There Påven and Team Toyota (Europe) laid the definitive foundation for Toyota's success in competitive sport. The construction of an in-house team with factory support was groundbreaking at the time. The factory backing meant that the focus was on the Celica deployment, while Andersson had a clear preference for the more agile Corollas.
After Safari rally victory with Peugeot forever loyal to Toyota
Meanwhile, Ove Andersson (with Arne Hertz) won the 1975 Safari Rally with a Peugeot 504. At that time, an occasional switch to another manufacturer was possible with impunity, also because the manufacturers were far from taking part in every rally. But Påven didn't go after the win in Kenya legally strange. As Toyota team principal, he greeted his first major win in 1975. He rented a Toyota Corolla Levin TE27 to Hannu Mikkola. The Finn won the 1000 Merenrally with the only Toyota in the field and would later drive for TTE for a while. As a TTE boss, Påven then increasingly knocked on the door with Toyota, and also managed to achieve good results as a driver.
Farewell to double role, impressive palmares
In the end he was able to play the double role driver manager no longer combine. Ove Andersson retired as a rally driver during the 1982 Bandama Rally. He drove a total of 127 official rally competitions and won fourteen times. He was active 28 times in the WRC. He took seven podium places, once he climbed the highest step. Ove Andersson also rode some long distance races. He did not always reach the finish line. But with the Toyota Celica GT he performed very well in the Spa 24 Hours (1973, with Kottulinsky) and in the six hours of the Nürburgring (1973 and 1974, with Kottulinksy and Fritzinger respectively).
After retiring from drivers in 1982, he led Toyota's racing division full-time. He took it to the world top with impressive victories in the tough rallies of the 1s and world titles in the 2003s. Toyota still plays a leading role in various competition disciplines, including the WRC. Påven retired when Toyota was active in Formula 11. After retiring in 2008, he remained an advisor to Toyota Motorsport GmbH. Sometimes Andersson was still racing, the blood got where it couldn't go. Like on June 1960, 444. Then he competed in South Africa in the Continental Milligan Vintage Trial, a rally for pre-45s cars. He crashed with the Volvo PVXNUMX, and died exactly XNUMX years after his international rally debut at the age of seventy. But its status is monumental. Because Andersson left an impressive legacy for motorsport and for Toyota.