Mikkola: the whole story
Mikkola was born on July 6th, 1945 in Mikkeli, South-Finland.
A few years later the Mikkola family (dad Toivo and mum Helvi)
moved to Sajaniemi.
At an early age Heikki already showed a great interest in some
different sports: he participated in redoubt jumping, cross country
skiing, basketball, athletics and weight lifting. After studying
technical studies he worked as a car mechanic and a year as an
armour fitter in military service.
Heikki was very young when he started his hobby on a bike. Together
with his friend Martti Pesonen (who later was Finnish champion
motorcycling on the road) he built springs and long saddles on
their bikes. They used those bikes to go racing on a track in
the Finnish woods seeking the furthest jumps.
After bicycles it was mopeds.
got his first moped when he was 14, but a few years later he wanted
a motor bike. He sold his moped and bought a Ducati with 3 gears.
His dad didn’t know about his secret and Heikki kept his
motorcycle hidden until his dad found out. Because Heikki didn’t
have a driving licence he was forced to bring the Ducati back
to the shop owner.
summer of 1964 Martti Pesonen bought a new Husqvarna. Heikki,
who had just turned 19, borrowed Martti’s old Greeves and
would decide after the race whether he would buy it or not. In
the week before the competition in Turku he trained twice. He
was very nervous and could hardly sleep the night before the competition.
race didn’t start very well for Heikki, he missed the first
turn and was forced to catch up in a cloud of dust. He finished
6th. He was enthusiastic and the Greeves had a new owner. That
season two more races followed where he became third in Hyvinkää
and fourth in Heinola.
During the spring of 1965 Salo held its first race. Heikki would
have finished second after Jorma Järvinen with the juniors,
if he hadn’t driven
to the paddock a
lap too soon. He became third.
Mikkola bought a Husqvarna from Martti Pesonen and won his next
race in Kouvola. This motor bike was far more superior compared
to the old Greeves. Heikki competed in 18 competitions that season
and won 11. His worst result was a fifth place.
1966 Heikki Mikkola bought a new bike, another Husqvarna from
Martti Pesonen. He rode his first race for the Finnish championship
where he had the lead until he broke his wrist in a fall. He didn’t
consult a doctor as the next race was only three days later. He
became second in spite of riding with heavy pain. The 22-year
old Heikki was determined to participate at the Finnish race for
the world championship in Hyvinkää. He was the quickest
starter in the first series, in front of the reining world champion.
For three laps he was able to keep his lead, then he became tired
and felt the strong pain in his wrist again. He lost a lot of
places and the same happened in the second series. But his debut
had certainly made a statement.
In 1966 Heikki Mikkola won the Finnish championship in an Enduro-race
But his wrist wasn’t healing well. Heikki thought his racing
career was over and thought about opening a garage with a friend…
the season 1967 Heikki Mikkola won his first world championship
point during the Grand Prix of Finland in Hyvinkää on
a 250cc Husqvarna. He finished 8th and 6th in the series and ended
up being 6th. Only six competitors managed to get points for the
world championships that year. That summer Heikki took part at
the world championship for country teams 250cc in Holice. The
Finnish team consisted of Heikki, Yyrki Storm (who finished 5th
in the world championship 250cc) and Aimo Lehtinen. They became
sixth. On their journey home the team took part in the Scandinavian
championships that they won.
Prix of 1968 in Hyvinkää ended up being a Finnish victory:
Kalevi Vehkonen was superior on his Husqvarna. The reining world
champion Joël Robert finished one minute behind Vehkonen
in the second series.
became the second Fin in the history of motor sport to win a GP.
The first was Aarno Erola who won the 250cc in Tikkurilla in 1962.
Mikkola finished sixth and seventh in the series and ended up
sixth. A week later it was the GP of Sweden in Hedemora. Heikki
didn’t have a good start but managed to get to sixth position.
In the second series he had a good start and was in second place
for a while behind Joël Robert. Unfortunately Robert was
forced to give up because his CZ was broken so Heikki won the
series with a minute and a half lead. Heikki Mikkola and Husqvarna
won their first GP! The track in Hedemora was very tough and it
was the first time Heikki Mikkola was on a similar racetrack.
He had also invested in new tyres.
the Finns rode with the same tyres all season. Afterwards he realised
the tyres had made an incredible difference. The Swedish Husqvarna
factory contacted Heikki after the GP and promised him serious
reductions for all the spare parts the next season. On his way
home Heikki decided to take part in more GP’s from then
on. In June of 1968 he married Kaija Hannele Pohjola.
1969 Heikki travelled around Europe with Kalevi Vehkonen. Including
Belgium: who would have thought then that it was the start of
his further career? They were going to take part in all the GP’s
that year, but Heikki only managed nine. Injuries were common:
in Switserland he lost two front teeth after falling from his
bike. By the end of the season he had two false teeth, a painful
ankle and a taped middle finger. He ended up fourteenth in ranking.
He considered that year an investment for the next season. He
needed to improve the motor and his means of travel. So Heikki
bought a new Volkswagen van to live in and a trailer for his motorcycles.
This again was a further step towards professionalism.
1970 his aim was a top-6 place in the world series. The first
manche of the GP series was in Sabadell Spain. He started well:
after eight series he stood in sixth position. During the summer
resting period he rode (and won) a few competitions in the US
quite easily. The following GP was in his home town Hyvinkää
on August 9th. Heikki was ready and highly motivated.
Husqvarna factory sent him plenty spare parts. The days leading
up to the GP a lot of work went into his motor: at least five
times the motor block changed, but still it wasn’t to Heikki’s
satisfaction. Even so he won the first series without any real
competition. During the second series he took the lead until the
cap of his petrol tank became loose. He needed a pit stop to replace
it and managed to become second. He also won the GP of Finland,
much to the disappointment of the Belgians. There was no stop
in him now and Heikki went on to win both the GP’s of Switserland
was kept out of the top-3 in the final series by just one point:
Roger DeCoster took the bronze medal with 74 points. Heikki had
73. 1970 was also the year in which Heikki got acquainted with
the Meekers family. During the Belgian GP Kalevi Vehkonen visited
Georges Meekers. Heikki, ill with flu, stayed in the van, but
got invited inside too. When they realised he had a temperature
they called for a doctor to come. A year later Georges Meekers
became his manager.
the start of the next season things were going wrong: a few injuries
and food poisoning, witch Heikki got during his stay in Poland
for the GP (Szcezin). In the next manche the second place was
wrongly put to the fourth place by a miscalculation from the jury.
the end of the season Heikki Mikkola knew he stood a chance of
being world champion, just like his fellow competitors. ”To
win a world championship you must believe that you are better
than the other competitors”, he said. He didn’t stand
alone: both Husqvarna as CZ got in contact with him. He chose
for Husqvarna with whom he signed a three year deal. Heikki moved
to Beringen in Belgium and didn’t need his van anymore as
he went to ride for a factory. He found a lot of support with
the Meekers family that would be of use later on. From now on
he had the use of as many spare parts as he needed. His Husqvarna
wasn’t a standard factory product. The purpose built bike
was a lot faster. He started his season in 1971 where he had finished
his last: he rode eight international manches for the GP with
excellent results. A Finnish party got going after the Polish
GP, where Kalevi won and Mikkola was second. By the end of the
East-German GP in Beuern he had taken the lead for the world championship.
It was the first time a Fin had managed to do so. But then his
luck changed: Suzuki made an enormous progress.
Robert and Sylvain Geboers received better motor bikes that accelerated
better and were easier to handle. Suzuki also had one mechanic
per bike. Mikkola was very disappointed with the engineers at
Husqvarna. They only issued one mechanic for 5 bikes. As well
as this Swedish racers like Häkan Andersson received a better
treatment. However, Heikki managed to earn a second place in the
world championship, just before the GP of Finland in Hyvinkää.
The success of the Finnish team was so big that all tickets for
the GP sold out in no time at all. Unfortunately the success didn’t
last and the Fins were disappointed. Vehkonen was fifth, Mikkola
was forced to quit because of a defect in the electronics. So
Heikki once again ended up in fourth place.
told the engineers at Husqvarna that he was not happy with them
and they promised to improve. He was granted his personal mechanic
Per Olov Persson and moved to the 500cc class. In the meantime
Husqvarna built a machine that was quite big and heavy to use
during world championship races. Other teams chose to ride the
older models, but Heikki was forced to try out all the new ones.
commercial reasons it was important to use the same engine as
was used for production Husqvarna’s. But this also meant
that Mikkola had a disadvantage compared to his fellow racers.
Roger DeCoster rode far more superior and took the gold medal
again, silver went to CZ-rider Paul Friedrichs. Heikki only had
one point less than Friedrichs and won his first world championship
medal. Heikki barely stood a chance to compete for the silver
one, even though he was in second place before the last GP manche,
11 points ahead of Friedrichs. But his motor got drenched with
water during the training and it wouldn’t start at the beginning
of the GP.
Mikkola was forced to stay behind in the paddock. Another technical
defect. Rodney Gould approached Mikkola in 1972 on behalf of Yamaha
for the first time. But because he didn’t want to wait too
long before signing a new contract, he stayed with Husqvarna…
For the season of 1973 the Husqvarna management asked Mikkola to change
to the 250cc class again. After two manches, the 35-year old veteran
Adolf Weill (Maico) took the lead, Heikki stood in 5th place. Hakan
Andersson started the third race with a new Yamaha. This machine had
a complete new suspension. The Belgian engineer Lucien Tilkens had designed
a new mono-chock system which Yamaha was prepared to try out.
It was considered the greatest innovation of the last decennia. The
result being that Mikkola and his competitors lost a few seconds on
the unbeatable Andersson.
The Yamaha racer won 11 world championship qualifiers and had an easy
ride to becoming world champion. When his machine didn’t let him
down, Mikkola managed to win a stage place, but this rarely happened...
Even though Mikkola had won 3 series, he became third in the finals,
after Adolf Weill.
Husqvarna wanted Mikkola to race back in the 500cc class and he
eagerly accepted. This was seen as the class of Queens. Husqvarna’s
heavy 360cc machine rode really well. Heikki got injured in February,
but got better quite soon en towards the end of March he easily
won the International Easter Trophy in Belgium, a two day event.
The opening race for the World Championship was in the Austrian
Sittendorf and it wasn’t really Heikki’s favourite
course. Even so, he won both series. He did the same during the
French GP, with Roger DeCoster causing heavy resistance.
motor fanatics thought this to be the most exciting race ever.
12 victories in the series were needed for the world title and
Heikki had already won 4. Mikkola and DeCoster both won two series
in the next two GP’s and were obviously the best of the
pack. Husqvarna offered Mikkola a new contract for the next season,
but the Fin decided to wait until further down the season thinking
he could then negotiate a better deal.
But the contest grew more and more grim, Heikki got injured during
the German GP in Beuern, but managed to heal during the rest period
that followed. But things were’nt going well for RogerDe
Coster either. Before the last GP the score in the series stood
9-7 for Mikkola, and 171-163 in the point ranking. Roger DeCoster’s
only chance for winning the world title was to win the final two
series and even then Heikki would have to end third in both series.
the first series the Belgian took the lead, with Mikkola following
in sixth position but gaining the second place rapidly. Halfway
the race DeCoster got unlucky with mechanical trouble and Mikkola
realised he was the new world champion! Totally confused and like
a first timer he continued the rest of the course. His team mate
Bengt Aberg even overtook the virtual world champion, but then
had a flat tire and Heikki still won the race. Even the next day
it seemed as if the new world champion had his head in the clouds.
Shivers ran down his spine at the thought of finally being the
world champion. The feeling was indescribable. Honda came knocking
with a new contract which held important obligations in the US.
He didn’t want those obligations and he signed an new contract
with Husqvarna for the next season.
new season didn’t have a kick off start. There were problems
with the Girling shock absorber which where solved by changing
them with Hulco’s. But Heikki injured himself during training
because the carburettor had problems. They discovered an injury
that Heikki had encountered the previous summer. Heikki’s
back was placed in a cast, but towards the end of March he was
training again in Belgium. The world championship started that
year in Switserland, Payerne. Mikkola and DeCoster both won a
series in that race. Husqvarna tried out a new Brittish rear suspension,
but after twenty minutes or so it lost its effect.
That year, Roger DeCoster went on to be world champion with 12
wins, Heikki Mikkola managed to get second place with 5 wins.
1976 Heikki once again changed to the 250cc class. The Husqvarna
factory needed good publicity for their 250cc motorbike because
it was since Torsten Hallman that a Husqvarna driver won the title.
Mikkola drove a bike that was the same as those sold to the public,
except it being a few kilo’s heavier. For a long time it
was Husqvarna’s policy to let the factory motor resemble
the Husky’s as much as possible. So that’s why not
too many spare parts where used, because that would be noticed
Mikkola’s bike weighed 101,5 kg, the factory’s KTM
that the Russian Gennadi Moisejev rode only weighed 93 kg. The
extra weight was more explainable in the 250cc class because those
motorcycles where less powerful.
Husqvarna’s had less power than their competing brands and
also the technical developments didn’t give the results
they had hoped for.
In spite of all this it seemed that after only five victories
Heikki was riding straight to a new title.
Then Moisejev anticipated: after eight GP’s Mikkola had
the lead with six victories over his five. Husqvarna wasn’t
able to accelerate enough, which meant problems starting and in
sharp turns, but was very good on long straight patches and faster
turns. During the last GP of the season Moisejev could gain the
title if he could manage a double
and Mikkola wouldn’t end with the first three. Mentally
it was a tough battle: there were even rumours circulating that
a Russian team was going to ride Mikkola off track.
But Moisejev did what he had to and won both series. His Finnish
opponent came second and was the first motor crosser ever to win
the world title in both the 250cc and 500cc class.
He won both national titles too. He had been riding for the Swedish
Husqvarna for 12 years of which six as a factory rider. The budget
for professional teams was going to be cut down a lot in 1977
and would have a negative influence on the racing team. Many times
rumours had it that Mikkola was going to choose for another brand,
and many would want to sign a world champion. The flying Fin says:
”Yamaha had been keeping contact since 1972. Because of
financial reasons the team didn’t continue after 1976, otherwise
I would have chosen to ride for them. I was confident Yamaha could
build me a very competitive motorcycle. The team leaders convinced
me to look for a good mechanic. It would have to be a European
(preferably a Fin), single and willing to travel a lot. It is
a great advantage when a cyclist and his mechanic speak the same
language. He would also have to be able to communicate well with
the representatives of the firm. I already had one man in mind:
Heikki Penttilä from my hometown Hyvinkää.
The contract was signed in Amsterdam and in December 1976 we flew
to Japan to visit the Yamaha race department and to hold a press
conference. That took place in the Tokyu hotel in Ginzo, where
the Yamaha racing programme was announced.
The brand new motor cycle (YMZ400) felt strange during my test
drive, because the suspension had been adjusted for a lighter
pilot than me. During a bumpy descent I was caught by surprise
and fell off. Yamaha offered professional help for all problems
and that took some getting used to. At least ten Japanese engineers
worked so hard that Hessu (Heikki Penttilä) had a trouble
to even get near a motor cycle. At Husqvarna I had been happy
having one mechanic. During our stay in Japan the Yamaha engineers
worked non-stop to satisfy to all my wishes. Every morning we
were allowed to test a better adjusted machine and give our comments.
By the evening we could see the result, the same procedure all
start of the new racing season Heikki’s transfer to Yamaha
was the talk of the town.
”The suspension of the new Yamaha was a problem in 1977
for a while. The front suspension didn’t live up to its
expectation during the GP in Austria, but Hessu managed to fix
it before the start of the next race. There were also problems
with the mono-suspension in which we did not have any experience
with. The Yamaha’s in 1977 weren’t really that good.
But the engineers did their best to solve all the problems in
led to a whole new machine for Mikkola: he had a new engine block
system, a new frame and a new suspension, everything except the
handlebars were new! The new cycle weighed 3 kg less than the
previous model. The Yamaha was very reliable and fast with Heikki
as the perfect pilot. He rode a motor that fully lived up to the
technical requirements. Nobody could have predicted an easy run
that season. On his first race with Yamaha in Hechtel, Belgium,
Heikki fell of his bike on January 30th, 1977.
He broke his collar bone which meant he was forced to rest a month.
He travelled back to Hyvinkää to try and keep a basic
level of fitness. His mechanic Penttilä used the spare time
to solve the problems with the suspension. A wrong adjusted suspension
had caused the accident in the first place he thought. It took
him 3 months to solve the problem.
Although his prospects didn’t look well, it only took the
champion one month to get back on track. He won the renowned Belgian
Easter Trophy in Geldenaken and Marche-en-Famenne.
during the first GP that year in Austria the suspension was far
from perfect, but during the GP in Holland everything seemed fine
again. Both Heikki’s returned to Belgium the second week
Five more games were ridden before the big championships started.
The first GP was a victory for the Suzuki team, the first and
the last of the season. Heikki was disappointed in himself (third
and fourth), but his comeback went better than expected. During
the GP in Holland he won both series. He became the leader in
the between score and didn’t give up that position again
that season. During the GP of Bielstein in West-Germany Mikkola
showed everyone how strong he was: during the second series he
was injured in his face. He finished the race second, but was
taken to hospital immediately after the race. He had a wound in
his eye that needed dressing. Heikki Penttilä took his place
on stage.During the world series in 1977 is was important to be
in regular condition. The season was a very successful one for
Mikkola: he took the lead with 50 points that year leaving DeCoster
behind him. During the last GP of the season in Switzerland he
was forced to give up because he had an injured wrist. It didn’t
affect the outcome of the season because the result had already
been obvious in Belgium a few weeks earlier. Heikki won 12 series,
the same as DeCoster in 1975. He was second four times, third
three times and fourth and fifth once. He had to give up only
In midseason, after the race in Carlsbad, there were races in
It would be the most stressful week of that racing season…
Heikki Mikkola and Pierre Karsmaekers both had one motorcycle
for these two American games. The bikes were going to be flown
over as cargo to Montreal.
The serial number had been changed on Karsmaeker’s frame
and both bikes were held back at the airport. Yamaha issued a
statement, but it was too late. The next cargo flight had already
left being fruit and vegetables it was forbidden to take bikes
along. Mikkola started to get nervous in Montreal. There were
no problems with the competitors.
The pressure built up as training became closer. It was already
Friday night and all weekend flights were fully booked. They were
constantly phoning Los Angeles, Yamaha even booked tickets to
fly Heikki’s motor cycle in hold-alls! Eventually they found
the right man for the job in Chicago, but he to was held up because
the pilots said he was carrying too much excess baggage!
Eventually off suitcases were lift out of the plane to make place
for the motor cycles. The Yamaha’s reached Montreal airport
on Saturday at one p.m., just one hour before the trials were
scheduled to start. The airport was located 100 km from the circuit,
which meant that Heikki didn’t make the first two trials.
The materials arrived at the circuit finally escorted by the police
with their sirens on! Heikki Mikkola had had a sleepless night:
at two a.m. people from Yamaha had phoned him with the promise
that they had arranged a bike for him. ”On Saturday morning
we found a bike unworthy to ride at the drivers park. It didn’t
look very good, I could have used it for just one lap!”,
Heikki said. The Mikkola entourage was very nervous and people
were arguing for no apparent reason. It wasn’t the best
circumstances to ride. In spite of all that, Heikki managed to
win the first series and was third in the second series.Heikko
was forced to give up in the first series of the GP in Farleigh
Castle, England. But not because of a technical hitch. ”I
had made a bad start. When I caught up with DeCoster, I decided
to recuperate a bit in his wheel. But Roger fell and I hit his
motor cycle. My front brake was damaged and I fell again because
my rear brake didn’t function properly during a difficult
descent. Then I decided to quit.”
The second series was won by Heikki Mikkola.
After that competition there was a moth break. Heikki took part
in 5 other races and won them all. The championship was going
to be contested during the Belgian GP.
DeCoster realised his season was over and started to concentrate
on next year. Wolsink was very reliable and a regular pilot that
season. He scored in every series and hadn’t given up yet.
Mikkola didn’t start in Namen to claim the title, but to
ensure himself of a good result. That is why he didn’t fight
back when DeCoster passed him by in the first series. He had calculated
that a second or third place would be enough for him. But Heikki
finished second and Wolsink only twelfth. Heikki realised that
the word title was up for grabs. During the second series Mikkola
gave a fabulous show which surprised everyone. When the gate fell
Mikkola did not get off to a good start but when the other pilots
braked in the first turn, he passed them all by gaining a 20 mter
gap. ”I chose the best line. That was planned. My tactic
worked 100%. Even though it was a risk due to the muddy surface.
Luckily I managed to stay upright and that determined the rest
of the series.” It resulted in the world title! Wolsink
fought hard, but fell during one of his attempts to pass. Mikkola
won 247 points, Wolsink 184. Even 4 victories in the series wouldn’t
be enough for the Dutchman. Mikkola: ”This title came as
a surprise, we hadn’t even bought any champagne. So we celebrated
Roger DeCoster challenged me to make the rest of the season even
more interesting. He announced publicly that he would show the
new world champion how strong he really was…
During the week after the GP in Belgium the title was celebrated
in a big way and Heikki’s concentration wasn’t great.
Roger’s words kept on racing through his mind.
August 14th, 1977. The first heat in the GP of Luxemburg in Ettelbrück
didn’t become a success because of an experiment with new
tires. The producer of tyres had developed a special tyre for
muddy courses and the circumstances seemed perfect. But the curse
dried up to quick and Heikki wasn’t able to keep up with
the tempo of Aberg or DeCoster. With different tyres Heikki showed
what a real champion he was: he won with a lead of 17 seconds
before DeCoster and half a minute before Aberg. A Japanese representative
from Yamaha followed Mikkola during the whole season and reported
all his findings to the engineers. The model for 1978 was based
on these findings. By the time they travelled back to Japan the
end of 1977, the new prototype was ready and waiting to be tested.
start for the world championship of 1978 was in Payerne, Switserland.
Apart from Namen it is the favourite racecourse of Heikki Mikkola.
With a double victory during the series the flying Fin showed
everyone that he had had a good winter and was perfectly prepared
for the new season.
Lackey, Graham Noyce, Roger DeCoster, Gerrit Wolsink, Jaak Van
Velthoven and André Malherbe would be his closest competitors.
A week after the Swiss GP the motor cross circus arrived in the
Austrian town of Sittendorf. The American Lackey was the best,
Heikki only managed a third and a sixth place. He set the record
straight in France on April 30th and during the following two
GP’s in Denmark and Finland the result was a Finnish walk-over
with 4 series wins!
experienced, cool minded and riding a perfect Yamaha meant that
Mikkola ruled over the motor cycling world.
also won two series in the Belgian town of Namen, under the most
horrific weather circumstances. During that competition the world
champion showed he could perform amongst any weather conditions.
His determination once again proved to be a superior characteristic
that lead to another superior victory. This was the first season
that Mikkola was really dominating: everything was perfect thanks
to the hard work from everybody in the Mikkola-entourage. The
silver medal went to Brad Lackey, Roger DeCoster was third.
the spring of 1979 the 34 year old Heikki Mikkola was struck by
a severe knee injury. He had acquired the injury during a preliminary
race in the Belgian town of Hoeselt. During a heavy fall he tore
the ligaments in his right knee. He was treated by the renowned
doctor Derweduwen at the H. Hart Hospital in Mol. After the operation
Heikki kept up his condition with special training in Finland.
His participation at the first two GP’s in Austria and France
were doubtful, but once again his determination won and only six
weeks after the fall he started at Sittendorf.
didn’t win any points. In the French town of Thouars the
limping Mikkola did well with a fourth and a third place. Steadily
his condition improved and after two stage positions in the Swedish
GP he showed himself a worthy champion in Italy with a double
range victory. In the American town of Carlsbad Mikkola hurt his
knee again but the second series left him in second place. The
heat was one of the main reasons he didn’t score any points
in Canada. During a fall in the second series he hit his chest,
which meant he was not able to start at the German GP. A flat
tyre and a fifth place brought a stop to his raid in Farleigh
Castle. The Swiss soil finally brought him some luck to the flying
convincing range victories proved the world champion had not given
up his battle yet. In the Dutch Markelo Mikkola won two third
places, which meant that in the between score for the world championship
he only was two points behind a third place.The Belgian GP in
Namen, where Mikkola had written motor cycle history, was a disaster
for Mikkola. During the first round he made a spectacular fall.
The cause was a newly designed front fork that refused to take
on its original size once bounced. The fall was so severe that
the reining world champion was not able to start at the second
The flying Fin ended his active motor racing career op august
12th, 1979 in the Luxemburg town of Ettelbrück. A tenth and
a fourth place were the final deeds of this quadruple world champion.
This season could not have been more worse for Mikkola: injuries
din not heal properly and his rivals were more regular. The British
Graham Noyce was champion that year, before Wolsink, Malherbe
and Lackey. Mikkola still was 5th.
Mikkola was disappointed at the outcome of the 1979 season, he
left all possibilities open in winning his fifth world title.
A Yamaha team was built around Americans Danny Laporte and Neil
Hudson. A job as team manager put aside for the Fin to pass on
all his experience to the younger generation.
From 1971 to 1979 Mikkola had managed to end with the top five
during every world championship. As well as having over 17 years
of experience in the MX world. For him it was the ideal way to
slowly acquire a new lifestyle.
It gave him great satisfaction, certainly when one of his racers
won. But when the Yamaha factory teams quit the former world champion
was very disappointed. He was allowed to continue his work, but
it meant he was forced to move to Japan. That didn’t appeal
to the Fin. In 1980 the Mikkola family bought a farm with a big
plot of land in the south of Finland. He now bakes bread, grows
potatoes, corn and different kinds of vegetables, which he and
his wife Kaija sell in their shop on a road between Helsinki and
Jyväskulä. It wasn’t that easy to adjust to the
quiet life and to the Finnish ways of life, but it suited Heikki
Heikki still take an interest in motor cross now? ”I don’t
follow it at all any more, even the big championships in my own
country pass me by. I lived my life as a professional sportsman
for ten years, but that sport can not be my hobby any more. I
have many happy memories left of my career, but it has been enough.”
Mikkola’s hobbies are hunting, fishing or relaxing in a
bungalow at one of the lakes nearby. His physical condition is
kept up to date with intensive langlauf trainings. Heikki did
take part in a few veteran races, e.g. the Austrian Gaildorf and
the Heeserbergen in Lommel, Belgium. That legendary race was won
by eternal rival DeCoster. Heikki suffered a breakdown because
of a loose handle bar.
A faster move from Husqvarna to Yamaha would certainly have meant
more world titles, but what’s done is done.
today Heikki Mikkola is a popular guest at events that he gets
invited to. His figure shows he is still in good shape, a consequence
of the good life in Finland.
His years spent in Belgium will always remain a special stage
in his life.