Rallying: Finland's 1983 world champion Mikkola dead at 78

(Reuters) - Rallying mourned 1983 world champion Hannu Mikkola on Saturday after the Finnish great died at the age of 78.

"We lost my father Hannu to cancer this weekend. Most knew him as a rallying great who ushered in the golden years of the sport," Vesa Mikkola said on Twitter.

Mikkola won 18 world championship rallies and took the title at the wheel of an Audi Quattro -- a first for an all-wheel drive car.

He was also three times the world championship runner-up and won his home 1,000 Lakes event on a record seven occasions.

In 1979 he helped Ford take the manufacturers' title but lost out in the drivers' championship to Sweden's Bjoern Waldegaard by a single point.

"Sad day for our sport as one of our legends left us today," France's seven times world champion Sebastien Ogier said on Twitter.

"Hannu Mikkola won the WRC same year I was born and although I never had the honor to meet him I am saddened by his passing as he will be remembered as one of the greats."

Spain's double world champion and four times runner-up Carlos Sainz also mourned the passing of "one of the best ever drivers".

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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