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First world champion Waldegaard dead at 70

LONDON (Reuters) - Swedish driver Bjorn Waldegaard, who became rallying's first world champion in 1979, has died of cancer at the age of 70, the official (wrc.com website) reported on Friday.

Waldegaard won 16 world championship rallies in his career, including Monte Carlo, and won his title after a battle with Finland's Hannu Mikkola at the wheel of a Ford Escort in Europe and a Mercedes 450 SLC in Africa.

The Swede won the East African Safari Rally four times and also triumphed in the Ivory Coast.

His last Safari victory, at the age of 46 in 1990 in a Toyota, made him the oldest winner of a world championship rally.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Peter Rutherford)