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THE
FIERCE
FINN
It is my time...
By Jukka Sihvonen
"A racer's only goal is victory."
-- Heikki Mikkola
"There comes a time when every man must face the question of wether or not he can reach his goal. In racing the goal must always be victory, and after winning one World Championship the goal escalates to winning the next. Before a racer enters a motocross circus he must have enough confidence to think he will win. In my case recapturing the level of optimal physical assertion would be much too troublesome a job. It is my time to retire."
Heikki Mikkola, blunt and to the point, spoke last autumn. No ifs. No buts. Moto-cross has given him all that it possibly can. Hessu, as his friends call him, is a man who knows his place and has always had the guts to make his own decisions and stand firmly behind them.
Heikki doesn't mention it, but you know that in the beginning of last season he suffered a serious knee injury during training. He lost his balance on a very slow curve, and his Yamaha fell over. The ligaments were severed in his knee. At first it looked like he was doomed to sit out the first four Grand Prixs in order to re-cuperate from his operation, but a deter-mined Hessu was behind the first starting gate of the season just three weeks after the accident. His injured knee was heavily taped and he had not been able to train in the weeks before the season opener.
The injury was excruciatingly painful during the entire season. He couldn't keep up his regular heavy training schedule. The injury did not allow for two consecutive training days. Hessu has always been known as the most fanatic and the fittest motocrosser in the world. Con-ditioning was Mikkola's secret in gaining the World Championships he won on the slightly underpowered Husqvarnas.
Heikki had already made his decision to retire after the Swedish round (the third event), but the quiet Finn kept the secret between himself and his wife, Kaija. Al-though Heikki knew it was going to be his last and most painful season, he never gave up. He was the only rider during the GP season to win two motos in the same day. Heikki did it twice (Italy and Switzer-land). This great feat is something which is described in the Finnish language by the word sisu.