PEOPLE: JEAN TODT

Name: Jean Todt
Nationality: France

Jean Todt, European GP 2005

Jean Todt, European GP 2005 

 © The Cahier Archive

The son of a doctor, Todt was educated in Paris and began his competition career when he borrowed his father's Mini Cooper S and let a friend drive while he navigated. His first professional ride was with NSU, as co-driver to Guy Chasseuil. He then tried to race for a while before realizing that he was better suited to life as a co-driver. He moved into international rallying in 1969 in a Ford Capri with Jean-Francois Piot and in the next few years he partnered a variety of top names, winning the Portuguese Rally in 1971 with Jean-Pierre Nicolas but also sitting alongside Rauno Aaltonen, Ove Andersson and Achim Warmbold. In 1975 he became the FISA representative for the rally drivers. He went on to partner Hannu Mikkola in Fiats and Peugeots and eventually gravitated towards Talbot Sunbeam Lotus, where he partnered Guy Frequelin. In 1981 Talbot won the World Rally Manufacturers' title.

Todt then retired from competition and in 1982 was given the task of setting up Peugeot Talbot Sport to design and develop the 205 Turbo 16 for the World Rally Championship. The car won its first rally in the hands of Ari Vatanen on the 1000 Lakes in Finland in 1984 and dominated the World Rally Championship in 1985 and 1986 with 16 wins and two titles. After a dispute with the FISA, Peugeot turned to rally-raids, winning four Paris-Dakars with the 205 and 405 models - three for Vatanen and one for Juha Kankkunen - and the Pike's Peak hillclimb with Vatanen in 1988 and Robby Unser in 1989. In 1990 Peugeot Sport turned its attention to sportscars and the Peugeot 905 was in the running for the 1991 World title. In 1992 the cars won the Le Mans 24 Hours and the World Sportscar title and a spectacular 1-2-3 at Le Mans in 1993. Todt pushed Peugeot hard to enter F1 with its own team but the management turned him down and in July 1993 he moved to Ferrari where he has been in charge of the racing activities ever since.

He is a Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur, the French equivalent of knighthood.

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