by Rob Wilkins

The 2006 Rallyday at Castle Combe this Saturday, July 22, will feature an array of stars from the rally world, including, too mention just two, BP Ford works driver, Mikko Hirvonen and WRC boss, David Richards. Crash.net Radio caught up with one of the co-organisers, Brian Stubbings this week to get the low-down on all the attractions for this year's event...

Q:
Brian, this is the sixth time you and Darin Frow have organised the Rallyday at Castle Combe. Is it getting easier?

Brian Stubbings:
I don't know about getting any easier. There is certainly more happening and each year we try and bring more to the event, which brings its own new challenges. Some of the other elements of it are becoming a bit simpler, we can book it earlier and things like that, which helps us.

Q:
Last year you had a number of star drivers at the show, including Colin and Alister McRae and Gigi Galli. How pleased were you with the 2005 Rallyday?

BS:
Superb - it was fantastic for us. I mean Colin and Alister have been before, but they did an absolutely star turn-out on the circuit in their two Mk II Escorts and they really entertained the crowds. Having Gigi Galli along in the Mitsubishi World Rally Car was certainly a sight to be seen too. Generally with a lot of these celebrities it is good for the fans to get a chance to see them outside the normal environment. So it worked really well.

Q:
Now one of the big 'names' attending this year, is BP Ford WRC works driver, Mikko Hirvonen. Tell us how you managed to convince him and Ford to have a presence?

BS:
We have been working with Castrol now for the last couple of years, whereby they have supported the event with simulators and things like that, which has been really good and other activities for people to participate in and so really, we were quite keen to take it to another level. We have been in discussions with the team throughout the course of this year just to see what might be possible and when they confirmed that Mikko would be able to come along that was absolutely fantastic. Also having their latest World Rally car there is superb too. We are really pleased.

Q:
Matthew Wilson is going make his first appearance at the show as well isn't he, sporting his Stobart VK overalls?

BS:
Yeah that is right. I mean having the Stobart team and Matthew there, is something else I am really looking forward to. He is obviously another full time competitor in the WRC and having that calibre of driver at the event is terrific. We are delighted to welcome the Stobart team down to Castle Combe this year and it will be good for people to get a chance to see them in action.

Q:
WRC boss David Richards is one of the other big names on the list. Give us some details on that, because he is there to mark his success in the WRC in 1981 with Ari Vatanen.

BS:
Again it is a first for David Richards at the event and it will be interesting to see what his reaction is, because he obviously plays a big role in the WRC and we are just interested to see what he thinks about the event when he comes along. This year it is 25 years since Ari Vatanen and David Richards won the World Rally Championship and so having them down with the Rothmans Escort, it will be a big spectacle for people and people are coming from a long way to see that. So having David Richards present adds a lot of clout to that really.

Q:
What other people should the crowds look out for?

BS:
Certainly alongside the ones you have mentioned already, there is Pentti Airikkala and we have got former British Rally champion, Russell Brookes, who will be driving the three different 'Heat for Hire' cars he originally campaigned - namely a Manta 400, a Sunbeam Lotus and also the three-door Sierra Cosworth he had. All three will be in their original liveries, so that will bring back a few memories there. We have got Tony Mason and Jon Desborough hosting the microphones again and there is a chance we might see Jimmy [McRae] there as well, which would be absolutely fantastic.

Q:
Now in addition to those names, the cars will obviously play a big part too. What displays are particularly noteworthy?

BS:
A few different ones really, one thing that we wanted to do was a tribute to Burns. His last public appearance, was as you will recall, at the Rallyday last year. What is going to happen there is Alex Burns is going to drive the RB5 001, which is the special edition car Subaru did, and we have got fifty other RB5's following it in a parade - that should be very impressive and it will follow a one minute silences in honour of Burns and Michael Park.

25th years ago as well, as well the win by Ari Vatanen and David Richards, who won the WRC drivers', we have got the winning WRC manufacturer as well, which was Talbot. So there is a display of 45 Sunbeam Lotus' and four original works cars. That is going to be another key attraction.

The other main one is the Lanica Centenary. That is going to be headed up by a rather large display of Delta Integrale's, including an original Carlos Sainz works' car.

Q:
Will there be the usual competitions and 'white-knuckle' rides there?

BS:
Yeah, the usual competitions and white-knuckle rides - and something which is actually running at the moment, is an e-bay auction for a ride with Ari Vatanen. So we are all watching that at the moment, so it will be interesting what that goes for, with all the proceeds going to the Save the Children charity. One other element that people can do on the Castrol stand on the day, along with Save the Children, people can buy raffle tickets for a chance to a win ride with Mikko Hirvonen. So yeah, the usual 'white-knuckle' rides, Bowler Wildcats, we have a special track for those, so that is a bit of a new one and also the normal rides around the circuit - so lots and lots for people to do.

Q:
You must just be hoping it all goes off well now then?

BS:
We have had some pretty spectacular drivers' throughout really [since the first Rallday in 2001] and it was just a case, how do you top it on from where you have been? This year there is some fantastic names, there really are and I think it is going to be a terrific spectacle. We have managed to bring something new, which we wanted to do this year as well and hopefully it will give the spectators and rally fans something to really enjoy.

Q:
Better than ever then?

BS:
Well I will tell you at the end of Saturday! [laughs] But certainly with us having arranged a bigger array of teams and a widespread of different celebrities, then I think, we are hoping for our best yet.

The Rallyday 2006 takes place the coming weekend, on Saturday July 22 at Castle Combe. Admission on the day is: ?12.00 per adult, ?6.00 OAP, ?3.00 per child. Full details are available at the official site: Rallyday.com.