Pentti Airikkala was born in Helsinki, Finland, and was one of the Flying Finns who dominated world rallying at that time.
Probably one of the least known drivers to ever win a WRC event, most of his career was spent in Great-Britain and he was a regular competitor in the British Rally Championship in the 1970s and 80s, winning the title in 1979. He only competed in three World Rally Championship events on a regular basis; the two Scandinavian rallies: the 1000 Lakes and the Swedish Rally, and the RAC Rally in the United Kingdom. In all he competed in 36 WRC events between 1973 and 1990, and a 37th in 2003, scoring 102 points and achieving a best of 9th overall in the 1981 Drivers' Championship.
His knowledge of the British roads enabled him to score an upset victory at the 1989 RAC Rally at the wheel of a factory Mitsubishi Galant VR4. Prior to that, he had been a factory driver for such diverse makes as Isuzu, Renault, Opel, Ford or Lancia. He is well remembered in Britain for his great performances at the wheel of the Vauxhall Dealer Team Chevettes at the end of the 1970s.
Since retiring from the sport, Pentti ran a rallying school in England, appropriately named 'Left Foot Braking'.
He died at Bray, Berkshire, and had been battling prostate cancer in recent years. He was admitted to hospital shortly before his death after suffering liver problems and a fall.