Markku Alèn (born 1951, Helsinki
) coined the term maximum attack
during his outstanding career in rallying. Alèn is undoubtedly one of the most successful drivers in rallying, not to mention aggressive. He started his career in 1969 driving a Renault
and followed his father's footsteps in competing in ice-racing events in Finland. He took his first ice-racing Finnish Championship in 1970, aged 19. From there on, his career in rallying continued abroad and went on to convince the team leaders of the time after a dramatic fight for third place in the 1973 RAC
For yet another Flying Finn, Markku often seemed more italian than finnish: his temperament and looks were a perfect fit for the Fiat/Lancia team with which he raced from 1974 to 1989. An astonishing length of time in a highly competitive sport! He is especially remembered for his spectacular battles in the outdated two-wheel-driven Lancia 037.
Although Alèn has 20 WRC victories under his belt, he was never crowned World Rally Champion. He won the series' predecessor, the FIA Driver's Cup in 1978, just barely missing the WRC series which began in 1979. In 1986, he lost his championship by a rejected protest to fellow countryman Juha Kankkunen.
After his longtime co-operation with the Fiat group, Alèn continued in the WRC series until 1993, racing for Subaru in 1991, Toyota in 1992 and both marques in 1993. He never regained the success he enjoyed at Fiat and Lancia in his new teams, but was consistently finishing in the top 4. Since his full-time career in the WRC, he has occasionally appeared at individual rallies with various teams.
Unlike many other rally drivers, Alèn has also been competitive on circuits and shown a high versatility for different cars, surfaces and styles. For example, he's raced for the Andros snowcross series in central Europe as well as the german DTM series. For 2004 he contested the Super Rally Cross (SRC) series in Finland in a BMW M3, taking second place in the series.
In 2004, Markku took a new step in motor racing, joining the classic Paris-Dakar rally-raid in an Iveco truck.