The motorsport world has lost a key figure after Andrew Cowan recently passed away at the age of 82. For those not in the know, Cowan headed Mitsubishi's WRC team in Europe. He oversaw the team's victories from the 1980's all the way to the early 2000's. It was also Cowan who guided Tommi Makinen towards his countless victories when he drove for Mitsubishi.
Born in 1936, Cowan was raised in the small town of Duns in Scotland. He was a close friend of future F1 driver Jim Clark and became involved in a local motor club. But it was in 1962 where he first tasted victory after winning the Scottish Rally in a Sunbeam Rapier. He won again in 1963, stating that he regarded his win in 1962 as one of his greatest moments in motorsport.
Years after, Cowan became a works driver with the Rootes Group and Mitsubishi where he was able to secure victories as a driver in the London to Sydney Marathons. He won the 1968 event which covered almost 17,000 km in Europe and Australia in a Hillman Hunter. He was then able to repeat his success in 1977 over a 30,000 km route with Colin Malkin and Mike Broad in a Mercedes-Benz 280 E.
He also won Australia's Southern Cross Rallies five times from 1972 to 1976. Cowan even won the grueling 32,000 km South American Marathon in 1978, the world's longest rally. Another victory came in 1985 when he won at Kenya's Safari Rally in the top four on four occasions. His reputation as Britain's greatest long-distance rally driver earned him many awards like the Jim Clark Memorial Trophy, and the British Racing Drivers' Club's John Cobb Trophy.
After making a name for himself competing in countless rally races, he decided to set up a team of his own in 1983. He established Mitsubishi Motors' sporting activities under the name 'Andrew Cowan Motorsports', which eventually became Mitsubishi Ralliart Europe. From 1996 all the way to 2001, Cowan, along with Tommi Makinen, managed to secure 22 WRC wins.
In later years, Mitsubishi took over the racing team but Cowan remained with the company until his retirement.
Makinen paid tribute to his late boss, stating that he is very sad to hear of his passing. “I’m very sad to hear that Andrew has passed away. Andrew had a massive influence on my career, not only while I was driving for him but also now that I’m managing a team myself. He remained a close friend even after our years of working together, and we met just recently at his home in Scotland a few days before Rally GB. My thoughts are with his wife, Linda, and the rest of the family,” said Makinen.