Ove Andersson: Rally driver and manager

After a highly successful career as a driver, Ove Andersson moved over to motorsport management and presided over Team Toyota Europe victories in both drivers' and manufacturers' championships. A man with great patience and respect, he was the first truly to get to grips with a Japanese automobile manufacturer, opening the way for Japanese success across the motorsport world. Andersson was a rare figure in motorsport: he was a winner as a driver and as a team principal, yet he had few enemies and kept his feet firmly on the ground.

He grew up on a remote farm in the vast forests of Sweden, and learnt to be self-sufficient early, because his family visited the city of Uppsala only once or twice a year. He began school at seven, riding his mother's old bicycle to the village four miles away. He tried everything to make the bicycle go faster. "It was not long before I was found by a forest worker hanging in a hedge with my clothing destroyed and bleeding from cuts to my legs," he remembered. "Bandages were applied and I was sent off to school again."

In an effort to get the bicycle to slide around corners while he was still pedalling, Andersson tried some modifications. More bandages were required. As he was not allowed to use a motorcycle at that age, he then fitted a motorcycle engine to a sled. It was the forerunner of the snowmobile, but for Andersson it simply meant more bandages.

In his teens he briefly studied engineering in Uppsala, but four hours' travel a day convinced him to work locally as a blacksmith instead, and it was not until he was 20, when he did his military service, that he discovered the outside world. He was fascinated and immediately volunteered to join the UN peacekeeping force in the Gaza Strip. After that he could not settle down, and applied for a UN posting to the Congo. While waiting, he bought a wrecked Saab, repaired it and entered it in a local rally, doing so well that the Swedish motorsport fraternity sat up and took notice. He would struggle for five years before finally landing a chance with a factory Ford (ie, one entered, prepared and paid for by Ford) in 1963.

Saab signed him up for 1964 and he rallied all over Europe, although he felt hampered by the fact that the team leader, Erik Carlsson, always seemed to have better machinery. Eventually, in frustration, he wrote to Cesare Fiorio, the boss of the Lancia rally team, offering his services for 1966. Fiorio took a gamble, and Andersson delivered, finishing second on the 1967 Monte Carlo Rally and winning in Spain.

In 1968, for Lancia, Andersson drove in the Daytona 24 Hours and the Targa Florio. He also competed for Ford in the London-Sydney Marathon, sharing a Lotus Cortina with Roger Clark. They had a huge lead when they arrived in Australia, but mechanical troubles – that even the resourceful Andersson could not overcome – dropped them down the order.

In 1971 Alpine came calling and Andersson was signed to help win the international rally championship. There was no drivers' title at the time, but if there had been Andersson would have won it, with victories at the Monte Carlo, San Remo, Acropolis and Austrian rallies. A year later, Toyota approached him and asked him to drive in the RAC Rally. It went well and Andersson established a Toyota team in Uppsala. As the team grew it moved first to Brussels, where it became Team Toyota Europe (TTE), and then to Cologne. Andersson still rallied for other teams and in 1975 scored his only win in the new World Rally Championship (WRC), taking the tough Safari Rally in a Peugeot. That year TTE scored its first WRC success with Hannu Mikkola winning the 1000 Lakes Rally in Finland.

Andersson spent much time in Africa in the years that followed, and TTE won a string of events. As the WRC grew, so Toyota became more involved, and in 1990 Spain's Carlos Sainz won Toyota its first world title. Four consecutive drivers' championships followed, to which were added two manufacturers' titles.

In 1995 there was scandal when TTE was caught using illegal turbo restrictors. Andersson, an honest man, said that it was his failure because he had not kept a close eye on what his engineers were up to. Toyota kept faith in him. They decided to try to win the Le Mans 24 Hours and in 1998 and 1999, Toyota Motorsport (as TTE had by then become) came close to winning the endurance classic. Then came word that Toyota wanted to enter Formula One and Andersson embarked on creating Panasonic Toyota Racing. The team entered Formula One in 2002, but Andersson had reached retirement age. He was shoved into a consulting role and watched in frustration as the Formula One team failed to develop as he would have wished.

Last year, approaching his 70th birthday, he packed his bags and headed off to a new life in his beloved Africa. It was there that he was killed, during a vintage car rally in South Africa.

Joe Saward

Ove Andersson, rally driver and motorsport administrator: born Uppsala, Sweden 3 January 1938; three times married (two sons, one daughter); died George, South Africa 11 June 2008.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Your picture is everything in the shallow world of online dating
i100
News
The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' was at one time the UK’s most expensive office when German bank IVG and private equity firm Evans Randall bought it
news
Life and Style
Attractive women on the Internet: not a myth
techOkCupid boasts about Facebook-style experiments on users
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Manager, Spanish, London Bridge

£30,000 + 20K Commssion: Charter Selection: This rapidly expanding organisatio...

Account Manager, Spanish, London Bridge

£30,000 + 20K Commssion: Charter Selection: This rapidly expanding organisatio...

Account Manager, London Bridge

£30,000 + 20K Commssion: Charter Selection: This rapidly expanding organisatio...

Graduate / Trainee Recruitment Consultant - IT

£25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Orgtel are seeking Graduate Trainee Re...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on