Markko Märtin in 2006.
|Born||(1975-11-10) November 10, 1975
|World Rally Championship record|
|Teams||Lukoil EOS Rally Team, Subaru World Rally Team, Ford, Peugeot|
|First rally||1997 Neste Rally Finland|
|First win||2003 Acropolis Rally|
|Last win||2004 Rally Catalunya|
|Last rally||2005 Rally Great Britain|
Märtin, as understudy to then-team mates Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz, shot to prominence with the Ford World Rally Team in the 2002 season. He was on target to notch up a victory on that year’s Acropolis Rally Greece, his career first, until suffering two punctures and instead being forced to concede to the more experienced McRae. Nonetheless, Märtin still impressed during his time as pilot of the Ford Focus RS WRC. He won the equivalent event in Greece the following year as well as being only the third driver in the history of the WRC to break the Scandinavian stranglehold on the Neste Rally Finland. In addition to this, Märtin was inaugural winner, again with Ford, of the Corona Rally Mexico in the 2004 season. He also won the tarmac rallies of Corsica and Catalunya in the same year. These victories happened to be the last for the Märtin/Michael Park partnership.
For 2005 Märtin departed the team for former constructors’ champion Peugeot and its 307 car. In comparison to the heights of previous seasons, initial promise was to give way to grief. Although 2005 was by no means an exemplary season by Märtin’s standards, he and co-driver Park had still notched up four podium finishes for their new employers by the time they had arrived in Wales to contest the Wales Rally Great Britain.
However, on Sunday, September 18, 2005, the final leg of the event, two kilometres from the start of Stage 15 at Margam Park, Märtin’s Peugeot crashed heavily into a tree. Although the Estonian driver was left unhurt by the shunt, co-driver Michael Park was immediately killed in the accident, the first fatality for a competitor at WRC-level for over a decade. As a result, Märtin announced that he would pull out of the last four events of the 2005 season.
Understandably shaken by the death of Park, Märtin effectively left the WRC stage. He went on to manage a junior rallying team in the Estonian rally scene, indicating that he would likely refuse any offers to drive at the top level again. He has since spoken out against the FIA‘s treatment of the WRC, claiming that the series had lost much of its lustre and calling for a far-reaching rules overhaul.
However, Märtin made a limited return to competitive rallying in March 2006 at the 2006 Rally of Portugal. The invitational event was held as a candidate for full WRC status. Märtin competed in a Subaru Impreza, his first outing in an FIA-spec Group N car in nearly a decade. He was co-driven by David Senior, who formerly worked with Alister McRae. Märtin also partook in the 2006 Danish Touring Car Championship with Hans Hartmann’s Honda Racing.
Life after WRC
In 2009 Markko was hired by Ford to work as a R&D factory driver. He helped to train WRC rookie Ken Block for the 2010 WRC season. On 7 June 2010, it was announced that Markko Märtin would race in Rally Estonia, which took place on July 16–18, 2010 and which was also an IRC candidate event. Märtin drove a Ford Focus RS WRC 03, which he referred to as “the best rally car in the world.” Märtin won all 12 stages, second place, Ott Tänak lost 2.50,3.
Together with his father Markko runs a haulage company in Estonia. He also bought a car dealership in 2005 and has started selling Subarus.