Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Marketta Oksala

Marketta Oksala is three-times Finnish Ladies' Champion, winning her titles in 1975, 1976 and 1977.

She was a six-times entrant of Rally Finland, with a best result of 22nd, in 1976. Her car was a Lada 1300.

Her best result in all of her eight WRC outings was 17th, in the 1977 Monte Carlo Rally, in an Alpine-Renault A310. She was competing as part of the all-female Team Aseptogyl, alongside Christine Dacremont and Colette Galli in a Lancia Stratos. Marketta was partnered by the experienced Yvonne Pratt (Mehta), rather than her usual navigator Pirjo Pynnä.

1974 seems to have been her first season of international rallying. She was 28 years old at the time. Earlier, she raced a Ford Capri on the circuits in Finland, as part of the Teboil junior team. One of her team-mates in the Finnish state oil company’s squad was Ari Vatanen.

She did one season in the Finnish rally championship in 1973, driving an Opel Ascona. She scored two top-twenty finishes in the Helsinki Rally and the Pohjola Rally. Her first 1000 Lakes ended in a 24th place.

Her first overseas rally was the 1974 RAC Rally. She drove a Hillman Avenger but did not finish. This came after a second season in the Finnish championship, driving a range of cars: Fiat 124, Alfa Romeo Alfetta and Opel Kadett. She only managed one finish, a 31st place in the Kalakukkoralli.

The Avenger became her favoured car for 1975. She won the first of her Finnish ladies’ titles with three Coupes des Dames, including one on her third 1000 Lakes Rally (she was 36th overall). Her best result was a 16th place in the Hankiralli. Away from Finland, she competed in one ice rally in Sweden, the Polar Bergslagsrallyt.

Her second Finnish ladies’ title came at the wheel of a somewhat unlikely car: a Lada 1300. This rather underpowered car nevertheless gave her her best-ever 1000 Lakes finish. She was the third Lada driver to finish and the second of the 1300cc cars. Her 21st place was the best overall result she had all season.

She also put together a string of six ladies’ awards and finished top of the women’s leaderboard, 20 points ahead of her nearest rival, Marja-Liisa Korpi.  

1977 was an inconsistent year for Marketta. She began the year with her Monte Carlo  adventure as part of Team Aseptogyl, which was a one-off drive. She then switched to a Ford Escort Mexico and then an Escort 2000 for Finnish rallies. She was the top lady on both the Hanki and Mantta events, but was not quite as high up the overall leaderboard as she could be. A switch to an Opel Kadett led to another top-twenty finish on the Itaralli in June. She was 19th.

Although she won more ladies’ awards, her overall finishes in the Kadett were indifferent and she retired from the 1000 Lakes and Nokia rallies. In November, she accepted another international guest drive in the Tour de Corse, in a Toyota Celica, but she did not finish.

Team Aseptogyl called for her services again for the 1978 Monte. This time, they were running diesel-powered Citroen 2500 CXs. Neither Marketta nor her team-mates Marianne Hoepfner and Christine Dacremont finished.

1978 was a short season, and her last one on the stages. The Nortti team ran her Kadett for the Hankiralli, then she drove a Mercedes 300 D for her final attempt at the 1000 Lakes. The Mercedes was another diesel car. She won the diesel class from Hans Sevelius’s VW Golf and was 36th overall.

After her retirement, she retained her interest in rallying and was a regular spectator at the 1000 Lakes.

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