Nigel Harris went spectating. Wilson stayed
behind, but remembers their return.
“They watched a stage where Henri took
50 seconds out of everybody,” says Wilson.
“They came back and said, ‘You don’t know
what you missed. That’s the most amazing
driving ever.’ A couple of hours later, Henri
and [co-driver] Sergio [Cresto] were dead.”
Nobody knows what happened, and
never will. Was it the medication? Possibly
high-octane fumes leaking from a fuel tank
mounted directly beneath the seats? Yes,
you read that right… Or another blackout?
Toivonen had been suffering them since his
Costa Smeralda shunt the previous year.
Tragically, Toivonen never got the
chance to deliver on his towering skills.
Alén: “This was Henri’s time. Hey, a
fantastic driver. Incredible, incredible boy.”
And amen to that.
oversees service on
his Lancia Delta S4
at the 1986 Rally
Corsica just hours
before his fatal crash.
(LEFT) Toivonen gave
the S4 a debut win
on the ’ 85 RAC Rally.
New York-born, Sergio Cresto’s heart
was always in the European roads that
made up some of the world’s finest
rallies in the late 1970s and ’80s.
Cresto competed on various Italian
events, joining privateer Tonino Tognana in
a Fiat 131 Abarth for a couple of seasons.
He arrived on Lancia’s radar in late
1982 and co-drove Michele Cinotto and
Andrea Zanussi on selected European
Rally Championship rounds in a 037.
The following year, he was in the works
Martini squad for three WRC outings,
including the Monte with Jean-Claude
Andruet (their 037 was excluded). Cresto
followed that with seventh and fourth
places on the Tour de Corse and
Acropolis, respectively, alongside Zanussi.
Pitched in with Italian star Carlo
Capone in a West-backed ERC campaign
in 1984, the pair cleaned up. Five wins
and seven podiums from 10 starts meant
the pair were the class of the field.
There was more ERC action alongside
Zanussi the following season, but only
topping the podium twice in the 037
meant they wouldn’t finish higher than
fifth in the championship standings.
TOIVONEN’s AMERIcAN cONNEc TION
Cresto had, however, made his mark
with Lancia management. Late ’ 85, he
was posted to Toivonen’s Delta S4.
The pair enjoyed the perfect start,
winning the Monte Carlo – no mean feat
for Cresto, who had only competed in
the Alps once before. A fortnight before
their fateful trip to Corsica, they took
the S4 to Costa Smeralda and won.
Toivonen had endured a complex
relationship with some of his past
co-drivers, but the early signs were
reckoned to be good going on great with
the easy-going Italian-American.
Sergio Cresto (ABOVE) leads Henri Toivonen
and their Lancia Delta S4 to a pre-start
time control on the 1986 Corsica Rally.