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  Home > People > Co-drivers > P to S > Park, Michael
Michael Park
In retrospect, it is ironic that Michael Park had devised a plan to team up with Markko Martin before the two even had met. At that time, in early 1999, Michael was co-driving for Abdullah Bakhashab. When Martin switched from Ford Escort WRC to Toyota Corolla WRC a few events into 1999 season, Michael's task became much easier. Also Bakhashab drove with Corolla and now both Martin and Park were serviced by the same team, TTE.

Michael had been competiting since 1987 and was ambitiously aiming for a top deal with a talented driver. Partnerships between drivers and co-drivers are often formed in the early stages of the career and to create such relationship at relatively late stage would not be easy. However, Michael recognised talent in Markko and luckily for him, Martin's relationship with his current co-driver Toomas Kitsing was not too rosy.

For 2000 season, Michael and Markko teamed up. That parnership would last until the accident that cost Michael his life in Wales Rally GB, 18th of September 2005.

Initially, Park was navigating basically for free as Markko was still in a privateer Corolla. That changed later in the year when the pair was snatched up by Subaru and for 2001, Michael and Markko had proper works deal. Unfortunately for them, it shrunk from full programme to just nine events and for next year they headed to Ford.

Autumnal aspirations
Excerpts from last interview with Michael Park ahead of Wales Rally GB, courtesy of Peugeot Sport

The current format is much more compact. Isn't that frustrating for someone who knew the RAC Rally of before?
It was different back then. I used to work as coordinator for a number of teams and my job included recceing the route to find the best service locations and marking up hundreds of maps. It was fun, but also very tiring. The same work is difficult to conceive nowadays, but it's true that moving to a different service park every day would help make the route more diversified. Happily, there are still some very nice, very fast stages which are never rough. On top of that, today's format makes it much easier for co-drivers to prepare for the event. And since I live near the Forest of Dean, which is close to the Welsh border, Cardiff isn't very far away at all.

You are British, but your driver is Estonian. How do you make sure that everything passes off well in the car?
Markko masters the subtleties of the English language perfectly. He even gets my jokes! The pacenote system we use today is based on the British system with the odd word of Estonian every now and again. Another feature of the way we work is that Markko asks me not to talk too quickly when calling out the notes, and that can come across as being a bit of a drone. Whenever I watch onboard TV footage, I don't like the impression I get that my voice is slow or that I call out the notes at the last moment. But it works for my driver and that's the main thing!

WRC starts:82
first: Great Britain 1994
latest: Great Britain 2005
Michael Park
Michael Park
Nationality: United Kingdom
Birthday: 22-Jun-1966
Died: 18-Sep-2005
Nickname: Beef

Michael Park
(Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window)
First win for Michael Park (l) and Markko Martin (r) came at 2003 Acropolis Rally with new Ford Focus WRC 03. Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window
Michael Park
(Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window)
Promising career came to an abrupt end in 18th of September 2005 and Michael's seat will remain empty forever. Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window