Ove Andersson, the man responsible for shaping the global motor sport presence of Toyota in both rallying and Formula One, has been killed in a head-on crash during a vintage rally near his South African home city of George. A mini van apparently pulled out from behind a truck into the path of his Volvo 444, making a collision unavoidable. His co-driver was injured, but survived.
Born in Sweden, Andersson began rallying in the early ’60s following his service as a peacekeeper in the Gaza Strip. He learned quickly and, prior to the establishment of the World Rally Championship in 1973, scored victories in several of the events that would make up the championship, including the Monte Carlo and Acropolis rallies. He claimed his only WRC triumph in 1975 on the daunting Safari Rally, and although that win came in a Peugeot 504 co-driven by Arne Hertz, most of Andersson’s successes involved Toyotas. Consequently, when Japan’s largest automaker decided to tackle the WRC, his Andersson Motorsport operation was transformed into Toyota Team Europe.
Under his direction the works effort achieved great things, including four Drivers’ Championships and Manufacturers’ Championships in 1993, ’94, and ’99, although the team did suffer the ignominy of a full-year’s ban from competition after FIA inspectors discovered an illegal air restrictor on the cars. Found blameless in that incident, Andersson was chosen to lead Toyota’s 2002 entry into F1 before retiring the following year to serve as a consultant.
By John Zimmermann