Former Mitsubishi WRC boss Andrew Cowan dies

Former Mitsubishi Ralliart team principal and London to Sydney Marathon winner Andrew Cowan has passed away. He was 82.

Former Mitsubishi WRC boss Andrew Cowan dies

Cowan retired from the Mitsubishi team at the end of the 2005 season, having directed the Japanese manufacturer’s dominance of Group A rallying in the late 1990s. It was under Cowan’s guidance that Tommi Makinen won four straight world titles from 1996-1999. 

The 1998 season was Cowan’s most successful, with the Finn topping the drivers’ standings and the Lancer securing Mitsubishi its sole makes’ crown.

There was, however, so much more to Andrew Cowan than his creation of a winning team. He was an exceptional driver in his own right.

Born into a farming family in the Scottish Borders, Cowan took to the fields and occasionally the lanes as he learned to drive at a tender age. His fascination for motorsport took him to Berwick and District Motor Club, where he became close friends with fellow member and Duns resident Jim Clark. While Clark was bound for the circuit, the stage beckoned for Cowan. 

Successful in European sprint-style events, he won the 1962 and ’63 Scottish Rallies in a Sunbeam Rapier. A 1964 Tour de France victory, aboard a Ford Mustang demonstrated his ability to win in a variety of cars, but it was his ability to win a wide variety of events that really caught the eye.

He won London to Sydney twice, in a Hillman Hunter in 1968 and a Mercedes 280E nine years later – and enjoyed yet more success down under with five consecutive Southern Cross wins in Australia. Cowan had a real penchant for long-distance rallying, easily able to blend speed with the required mechanical sympathy to nurse a car to the finish.

He was fairly adept at nursing other people’s cars to the finish too. Roger Clark would likely have missed out on his 1972 RAC Rally win had it not been for Cowan pulling over to offer the Englishman a wheel bearing from his own car to assist Clark’s RS1600 from the final stage to a victorious finish.  

Second overall on the 1985 Paris-Dakar, Cowan finally stepped out from behind the wheel in 1990, by which time Ralliart was demanding his full focus.

The canniest of Scots, Cowan was always conscious of the budget and the success he achieved with Mitsubishi was testament to his ability to deliver even in the tightest of fiscal squeezes.

Cowan was a great conversation. Always. No matter what you wanted to talk about: salmon fishing in the Borders, potato prices in the field, a particularly good single malt or what made Makinen tick, Andrew was always, always worth listening to. 

So many folk have so much to thank this man for. Always willing to give somebody a chance and an opportunity to further their own career, Cowan was a warm-hearted and genuinely lovely man. 

He was sorely missed when he departed the service park 14 years ago. Motorsport.com offers its deepest sympathies to his wife Linda along with his family and many friends all around the world.

Andrew Cowan,  founder and senior director of Mitsubishi Ralliart

Andrew Cowan, founder and senior director of Mitsubishi Ralliart

Photo by: Sutton Images

shares
comments
Radical Citroen aero overhaul revealed
Previous article

Radical Citroen aero overhaul revealed

Next article

Promoted: How working from home boosted motorsport TV coverage

Promoted: How working from home boosted motorsport TV coverage
How Rally New Zealand encapsulated record-breaking Rovanpera’s WRC title charge Prime

How Rally New Zealand encapsulated record-breaking Rovanpera’s WRC title charge

Kalle Rovanpera’s coronation as the new World Rally Championship king had been a long time coming, only to be postponed by hiccups in Belgium and Greece. But at Rally New Zealand the “Full Send” Finn demonstrated exactly how he's been able to rewrite the rallying record book as he stormed to victory to become the youngest ever world champion

WRC
Oct 3, 2022
How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy Prime

How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy

Thierry Neuville led a maiden Hyundai 1-2-3 in the World Rally Championship, as the previously soft i20 N became a battle-hardened Greek warrior at the Acropolis Rally. But with team orders in play between the winner and Hyundai’s title protagonist Ott Tanak, could the result come back to haunt the team?

WRC
Sep 12, 2022
How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders Prime

How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders

After runaway World Rally Championship leader Kalle Rovanpera made his first major mistake of the season, the chance to take advantage was wide open for the chasing pack. Several of his rivals faltered to grasp the opportunity, but Ott Tanak made no such mistake and demonstrated his class with a third win of the campaign

WRC
Aug 22, 2022
Inside Toyota’s new WRC dream factory where rally conquerers come to life Prime

Inside Toyota’s new WRC dream factory where rally conquerers come to life

Toyota locked out the top four places in the World Rally Championship's recent Safari Rally Kenya in a clear indication of its GR Yaris Rally1 hybrid's pace and durability. Motorsport.com was recently given a tour of the new factory where its cars are designed, tested and built, and it reveals much about the commitment of the Japanese marque to continued WRC success.

WRC
Aug 19, 2022
How Rovanpera has reignited Finland's rallying obsession Prime

How Rovanpera has reignited Finland's rallying obsession

Finland may have a small population, but it has long enjoyed rallying success. Now that the nation has a new star to cheer in the form of Kalle Rovanpera, interest in the discipline is surging once again.

WRC
Aug 10, 2022
How Tanak spoiled Rovanpera's Finnish homecoming Prime

How Tanak spoiled Rovanpera's Finnish homecoming

Kalle Rovanpera and Toyota went into Rally Finland as overwhelming favourites but came away as runners-up to a resurgent Ott Tanak and Hyundai. While it may have dampened the homecoming party, it still moved the Finn closer to the ultimate World Rally Championship prize

WRC
Aug 8, 2022
Inside Hyundai’s F1-spec mobile WRC home Prime

Inside Hyundai’s F1-spec mobile WRC home

Hyundai is one of the World Rally Championship's big three, and has a brand-new travelling facility befitting of that status. The team invited Motorsport.com for a behind-the-scenes look at its state-of-the-art HQ, which comes complete with all the bells and whistles you'd expect of a top Formula 1 outfit.

WRC
Jul 27, 2022
How Rovanpera's latest masterclass left his WRC rivals stumped Prime

How Rovanpera's latest masterclass left his WRC rivals stumped

After trailing Toyota teammate Elfyn Evans for much of Rally Estonia's opening day, WRC points leader Kalle Rovanpera took advantage of a change in the weather and never looked back afterwards. Winning for a fifth time this year at the scene of his 2021 breakthrough, and with a breathtaking powerstage bonus for good measure, his advantage is already looking difficult to topple.

WRC
Jul 18, 2022