Rally legend Tony Fall dies in Africa
- 4th December 2007, 8:37am
Fall became ill and died in his sleep on December 1, of a suspected heart attack.
Richard Anthony Fall was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, in 1940. As a car salesman, he was a club rally driver in a Mini. He was soon spotted by BMC Competitions team manager Stuart Turner, and co-opted into the works team alongside Paddy Hopkirk, Timo Makinen and Rauno Aaltonen.
His first major international victory in the Mini was the 1966 Circuit of Ireland, co-driven by Henry Liddon. He rallied with BMC for three seasons - including competing on the original London Sydney Marathon and finishing 23rd in a Morris 1800 - and then joined the Lancia team, where he achieved his highest-ever finish on the RAC Rally of Great Britain: 3rd in 1969.
He joined Datsun for three seasons, achieving many high placings on world rallies, at the same time driving for other factory teams, including BMW, Porsche and VW. Tony tackled the World Cup Rally from London to Mexico in 1970 with a celebrity co-driver, footballer Jimmy Greaves, and they finished 6th.
Twenty-five years later, he competed on the re-run of the event, finishing one place higher. He achieved 12 international rally wins in his driving career.
A long association with General Motors commenced in 1974, when he established Dealer Opel Team, employing driver talent such as Ari Vatanen and Tony Pond. Success in the UK with DOT led to his appointment as Director of Motor Sport for GM Euro Sport, based in Russelsheim, Germany, in 1978.
Under his direction, Walter Rohrl became World Rally Champion in 1982, and - in the latter part of the decade - Tony introduced the Opel-Vauxhall Lotus formula for single-seat racing cars, which launched the careers of many Grand Prix stars, including Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard.
Tony Fall returned to the UK in 1990, initially as manager then owner of the motor sport safety equipment manufacturer, Safety Devices. He was managing director of the company - famous for the production of roll-over cages - at the time of his death.
Tony, who in recent years had driven a replica of his original Datsun in historic rallies with Yvonne Mehta, was in Africa on "holiday", helping with the organisation of an event he loved, and which had been the scene of many of his triumphs.
His wife Pat, sons Richard and Oliver from a previous marriage, and grandchildren Louis (8), Charles (6) and Mia (4), survive him.
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