by Rob Wilkins

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH BRIAN STUBBINGS: CLICK HERE

The 2007 Rallyday at Castle Combe takes place this coming Saturday and will feature a number of stars from the world of rallying - including 1983 FIA World Rally champion, Hannu Mikkola and Stobart Ford's Matthew Wilson, as well as many, many others. Crash.net Radio's Rob Wilkins caught up with one of the co-organisers, Brian Stubbings ahead of the event to get the low-down on all the attractions...

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Crash.net:
Brian, this is the seventh Rallyday at Castle Combe that you have organised with Darin Frow. Are you still as excited about it as when you did the first one back in 2001?

Brian Stubbings:
Absolutely, when we did the first event we didn't quite know what the response would be but as rallying enthusiasts we had a good feeling and designed it from that perspective. It is a bit different now. The event is well established and the challenge is how we evolve it and keep attracting new teams and celebrities, while keeping our loyal following. It is exciting but the challenges have changed.

Crash.net:
The weather hasn't always been kind to the Rallyday show - why have you made the switch it to a September date?

BS:
Partly the weather - the last two years we have had quite severe weather, but we always keep an eye on the FIA World Rally Championship calendar as well. So it is a combination of looking at those couple of things and making sure we keep clear of any WRC events. We are certainly hoping for better weather.

Crash.net:
This year, you have two big drivers' from the FIA World Rally Championship attending, namely one from the past and one from the present, in the shape of Hannu Mikkola and Matthew Wilson. How big a coup was it getting those two people to agree to attend?

BS:
It is fantastic - any one at WRC level is really good for us. I think it shows something about these guys too, how they can devote the time to something like the Rallyday. Both drivers' are excellent in our eyes and they show great contrasts. Mikkola is someone I remember watching in the Group B era specifically. It is good at the moment that we can all see Matthew evolving through the sport too and learning in what is only his second full season in the WRC.

Crash.net:
The Rallyday and the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship have joined forces this year. How did they tie up come about?

BS:
We got talking with [BRC boss] Mark Taylor and he was keen to have a platform to showcase some of the BRC teams in a spectator orientated event and outside of the normal BRC rounds. We then put a package together with some of the teams and the guys from the BRC are going to be running on the circuit in a separate rally stage with good spectator viewing points.

Crash.net:
What benefits will that link up have? Will it be good for the Rallyday show?

BS:
I think it is good for the Rallyday. I think the BRC is a good attraction for the spectators and for the BRC teams themselves' it is good for the sponsors to get exposure at what is a well attended event. It is good for the guys as well to be able to take the sponsors and any guests out in the cars. It is something that will work for both parties.

We have got a number of different names from the BRC - from Suzuki and Mitsubishi and some of the other independent guys as well outside of the 'manufacturer' teams coming, so it should be very good.

Crash.net:
What other stars should people look out for, in addition to those two big names from the WRC and those in the BRC too?

BS:
We have got the likes of Tony Mason, [former British Rally champion] Russell Brookes, Nicky Grist - and also a few blasts from the past in John Taylor, Howard Davies and Phil Collins. We have got Phil Mills as well, who is of course Petter Solberg's co-driver. It is quite a nice spread and that is one of the things that we always try and do.

Crash.net:
What are the big 'displays' this year? What cars will be at the show and demonstrated on the track?

BS:
We have got Rallycross Supercars - they are going to have a couple of dedicated demonstration sessions and that is a new thing We have got a 50 strong entry on the feature rally stage, which will include the celebrity drivers' that are coming. We have Russ Swift doing his driving routine and another big one for us this year is the Aston Martin Rally GT. I managed to see that in action the other day - it is an incredible thing. There is also the awesome Audi Quattro S1 E2. I think there is quite a good mix of cars for people to see.

Crash.net:
What other things should people attending look out for in terms of competitions, rides and so on?

BS:
On the 'Save the Children' stand people have got the opportunity to enter a raffle and win a ride in the Aston. We have got simulators from Pirelli and Castrol and rally car rides happening all day and also there will be interviews with the stars on the main stand throughout the day. Hannu will be signing some limited edition prints too, which is to do with the PIAA 21st anniversary.

Crash.net:
With Colin McRae's tragic accident last weekend will anything be done to mark that?

BS:
We are going to hold a minutes silence and something else will follow after that as well to give people an opportunity to grieve - and to remember Colin. It has been very, very shocking. I was lucky enough to meet Colin once and it is absolutely tragic. My thoughts are with his family - and with those other people affected as well. We want to do the right thing at the event.

Crash.net:
The Rallyday usually attracts around 10,000 people - are you hoping to get a similar turn-out this year?

BS:
We are expecting a similar turn-out and judging by the entries and bookings so far there could be a few more. We think it is going to be quite strong this year.

Crash.net:
What are you doing or have you done to ensure you get a similar turn-out or even an increased number of people?

BS:
We have done a couple of different things in terms of packages for the teams and we have done a small TV campaign as well. It will be interesting to see what that does for it.

Crash.net:
What do you think is going to be the highlight this year?

BS:
That is a difficult one. For some it will be Hannu and for others it will be the current WRC stars. But for me I think the Aston is pretty impressive - or very impressive to be honest. The Mitsubishi WRC car will be there and that should be a good sight. It is great to see Matt Wilson come back. He is going to have the opportunity to do more in the car this year because his Focus isn't about to go straight off to a WRC round. That will be pretty spectacular. All-in-all it is difficult to pick out one specific thing.

Crash.net:
Final question: how have you gone about making things better than in previous years? Is that possible?

BS:
It is a tough challenge and it always presents us with a bit of a problem. What we have done is this specific thing with the Clubmans Rally Teams and this year people are going to see more rally cars at the event than ever before. The Clubmans Rally Teams alone is 50 entries and with up to 20 on track at the same time is going to be really exciting. They are great to watch and we think that is one thing that will be good for the spectators.

The other thing is Hannu Mikkola. He is a fantastic name to have at the event. He is a former world champion and to get someone like that really helps us to pull in the spectators.

The Rallyday 2007 takes place on Saturday September 22 at the Castle Combe circuit in Wiltshire. Admission on the day is: ?15.00 per adult, ?8.00 OAP, ?3.00 per child. Full details are available at the official site: Rallyday.com.

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH BRIAN STUBBINGS: CLICK HERE