Rallyday 2010 reached a milestone on Saturday 18 September and organisers can confirm a record turnout of over 10,000 people for the tenth anniversary Show at Wiltshire's Castle Combe Circuit.
The event included a "Who's Who?" from the world of rallying, with BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver Jari-Matti Latvala heading the list. Latvala was out on track in Ken Block's Monster World Rally Team Ford Focus RS WRC and the Finn was won over by the event.
"It is always nice to do these types of events and I have been very impressed," said the 25-year-old. "There are a lot of people here, it looks good, there are some very nice cars and there is a very good spirit too."
Latvala was joined by 1984 World Rally Champion Stig Blomqvist, who was on hand to help mark the 30th anniversary of the Audi quattro. As part of this celebration, a comprehensive line-up of original works Audi quattros was at the centre of the Rallyday paddock, covering their evolution through the 1980s.
These included the original Gp4 quattro, which Audi used to launch its rallying campaign on the 1980 Algarve Rally - reputedly worth over a million pounds. Other key quattros on display included the 1985 Pikes Peak Hillclimb winning car and the only surviving original GpA Audi Coupe quattro, which was driven by David Llewellin and Phil Short on the 1987 Lombard RAC Rally.
"The Rallyday is getting better and better every year," said Blomqvist. "The organisers do a good job. The Audi quattro was a fantastic rally car in its day and I think people want to see it again."
In addition, Skoda UK made its debut at the event and two-times British Rally Champion Guy Wilks took the time to show off the new Skoda Fabia S2000 Facelift, which he drove for the first time at the end of last month, on the Barum Czech Rally Zlin, round 9 of the 2010 FIA Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
"It is a credit to the Rallyday just how many people have turned out, both to support the event with cars and drivers and also how many spectators are here," Wilks said."I don't know what the figures are, but looking around it is very busy. This is my second or third time here and it is nice to see it has not got tired. I have heard plenty of noises to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It is great to hear some fit Audis going of the line. There are lots of good quality old and new cars here.
"Around the track, it is good that the spectators can see the cars for such a long time, too. Castle Combe is not a natural rallying environment, but at the same time that is almost its draw, because it is so accessible."
Meanwhile, 1977 and 1985 British Rally Champion Russell Brookes, his co-drivers Mike Broad, John Brown, Paul White, Neil Wilson and Peter Bryant and his original sponsor John Andrews, were all there as part of a unique Andrews Heat for Hire Celebration. Spectators were able to view a range of the iconic cars which Brookes used during his successful long-term campaign, including one of his personal favourites, the Vauxhall Chevette HSR.
"I have been here many times and it is always a great event," said Brookes. "There are lots of exhibits, lots of cars on display and, of course, the action keeps moving both on the circuit and on the rally stage.
"We have gathered together ten of my original ex-works rally cars, all in Andrews Heat for Hire colours. It is very special display. It was a very iconic period in British rallying. The sponsorship deal was the longest-lasting commercial sponsorship deal there ever was in the sport. It is amazing to get these cars all together."
Fellow British Rally Championship winner Gwyndaf Evans was in attendance, too, along with his son, three-times Fiesta SportTrophy championship winner Elfyn Evans. The Gwyndaf Evans Motors display featured several rally cars campaigned by Gwyndaf over the years, including a Seat F2 and a Brooklyn Sierra Cosworth - plus Elfyn's latest Fiesta R2.
"I don't know where the ten years have gone since the inaugural Rallyday," said Gwyndaf. "But I think it draws more crowds every year. It is remarkable. Nobody is rushing to go anywhere. There are no clocks to be watching. It is a relaxing day and everybody seems to be very approachable. That is the key. It is a pleasure to be among enthusiasts."
Other stars at the event included Phil Mills (Petter Solberg's co-pilot until June this year); Phil Pugh (Guy Wilks' co-driver); Terry Kaby (Prodrive's WRC tester), Tom Cave (showing off the Proton S2000) and, of course, Rallyday host extraordinaire, 1972 RAC winning co-driver (with Roger Clark) and former Top Gear presenter Tony Mason.
"It is a tremendous record to think this is the tenth Rallyday and it is a privilege to have been to all ten of them," Mason said. "I have got some wonderful memories of this event and it is quite impressive when you think of all the people who have come here over the years.
"The organisers have achieved amazing things and having Jari-Matti Latvala here, for instance, is a tremendous thing. There is great attention to detail and they cram everything in."
Indeed, with Russ Swift entertaining the crowds as normal with his spectacular precision driving display, as well as the Strictly Sideways Competition and the Feature Stage, which commenced with a special parade of cars from the Richard Burns Foundation, spectators had a real treat. The RBF were at Rallyday raising money for the charity and had an incredible line-up of Richard's rally cars, which spanned the 2001 World Rally Champions' successful - but all too short - rallying career. The cars were driven in a parade by many of Richard's former colleagues, including Stig Blomqvist, who drove his championship-winning Subaru Impreza WRC.
McRae Vision had an extensive display, with fans getting the chance to see the 1995 World Rally Champions' original Ford Sierra Cosworth and the championship-winning Prodrive built GpA Impreza 555. There was also an opportunity to have a go on the latest Colin McRae Dirt 2 video game; the fastest player won a real white-knuckle ride on the Feature Rally stage.
Rallyday organisers Brian Stubbings and Darin Frow both felt the show had been a resounding success and said that initial feedback was very positive. "We are delighted with how the day went," Stubbings continued. "I'm really pleased with all the different teams which came along and there have been some fantastic displays, both out on the track and in the paddock.
"I was out and about a bit earlier on and the crowds on all the different banks were huge. There is pressure each year and you always want to try and make sure to have something new and interesting. Because it was the tenth one, we wanted to try and make it extra special this time and we'd like to thank everyone for all their support."
Frow added: "I can only echo what Brian said. It was a great day and everything ran smoothly. We've already started planning Rallyday 2011 and we will announce a date shortly."
MC-Video took extensive video footage at the event, which will be shown on a one-hour Motors TV
programme covering the whole event on Friday 22 October 2010, starting at 9:15pm.
In the meantime, you can also re-live the tenth Rallyday by checking out the post-event podcast, available on the official Rallyday website event news page and free to download from iTunes.
For more information, please visit www.rallyday.comAll pictures courtesy of Andy Crayford - Crayfordmedia.com