Pentti Airikkala, one of the stars of British and World rallying in the 1970s and 1980s, has died at the age of 64 after a year-long battle with illness.

The Finn, who took the British Rally Championship in 1979, made 37 starts in the World Rally Championship during his career, making his debut in 1973 on the 1000 Lakes Rally and competing through to 1990 before retiring - although he did come out of retirement to return to the stages of Rally GB in 2003.

Airikkala's lone WRC success came on the 1989 Lombard RAC Rally where - partnered by Ronan McNamee - he brought his Mitsubishi Galant home first ahead of Toyota pair Carlos Sainz and Juha Kankkunen.

Following his retirement from the sport, Airikkala set up his own rallyschool near Oxford in an attempt to find a future WRC star, with British WRC title winners Colin McRae and Richard Burns amongst his past students. extends its deepest sympathies to Pentti's family and friends.