Date of birth:
22 June 1966Lives:
Hereford, EnglandMarital status:
Married to Marie, son William, daughter VictoriaFirst rally:
1987First world rally:
1994 RAC Rally
Having grown up in England's rural Herefordshire, a part of the
country where the twisty country lanes were frequently used by small overnight rallies, it seemed natural that Michael Park would gain an appetite for rallying. After joining his local motor club, 'Beef', as he is affectionately known, learned his trade as a navigator on those roads.
After three years spent gaining experience on local road and special stage rallies with a variety of drivers, Park joined forces with Steve Bennett to tackle Britains Peugeot Challenge series in 1990. They finished second and mounted another determined challenge the following year, but again had to settle for the runners-up spot beaten only by an improving young driver called Richard Burns!
The duo tackled several European rallies in 1992 and Park also co-drove for David Williams in a Ford Sierra Cosworth on Britains national championship. The organisational skills required of a top-flight co-driver were also being developed as a service co-ordinator for Williams Genesis Sport team and Peugeot Talbot Sport on the 1992 RAC Rally.
In 1993, Park linked up with David Higgins and the pair won the Peugeot Challenge, only to be excluded at the end of the season for a technical irregularity. But their pace was rewarded with a works drive in a Peugeot 106 on the 1994 British Championship and they made the most of the opportunity by securing a class win.
Park worked in the gravel note crew for Subaru driver Richard Burns on several rounds of the 1994 Asia Pacific Championship and on three rounds of the 1995 world championship. In competition he and Higgins joined Ford and drove a works-prepared Escort RS2000 in the British Championship, taking sixth place on the Scottish Rally.
Park maintained his gravel note relationship with Burns when he moved to Mitsubishi in 1996. The pressures of rallying had become too much to hold down a full-time job and in 1997 he left his job as a metal fabricator to forge a full-time career in the sport, continuing his gravel note duties for Burns until the end of 1998.
His big break came in 1999 when he partnered Abdullah Bakhashab in a Toyota Corolla WRC. They tackled eight rounds of the world championship in the FIA Teams Cup, ending the season in fourth.
But for 2000 Park joined up with Markko Märtin for a comprehensive world championship programme in a Corolla, the highlight of which was sixth place on the Cyprus Rally. The duo switched to Subaru for a limited world championship programme in 2001 in an Impreza WRC but, disappointed at not receiving a full programme, they moved to Ford for the 2002 campaign.
Park guided Märtin through a remarkably consistent year in a Focus RS World Rally Car. The pair finished 12 of the 13 rounds they started and scored points on eight of the last nine rounds, including a career-best second on the final round of the championship in Great Britain.
A keen all-round sportsman, Park is a keen football and cricket fan and enjoys shooting.