Rallyday enjoyed another hugely successful event on Saturday 17th September, with the UK's premier rally car show at Wiltshire's Castle Combe Circuit again offering its usual mix of stars, cars, action and displays.
Topping the bill for the eleventh edition was Britain's two top current WRC drivers, Kris Meeke and Matthew Wilson, both driving two of the new-for-2011 next generation of WRC cars. Meeke was in action in the MINI John Cooper Works WRC car ahead of the team's fourth outing of the season in France, while Wilson, who competes in the WRC for the M-Sport Stobart Ford WRT, was charged with driving the Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team Fiesta RS WRC car.
“It is always good to go to occasions like this where there is a concentrated group of cars representing all the years throughout the sport. It is a really fun day out for people to come and see everything close up. It is nice to be able to show them what the MINI is capable of too,” Meeke said.
“I missed the Rallyday last year and so it is great to be back,” added Wilson. “I always like it. It is a relaxed day and good fun. You can put on a bit of a show and it makes it an interesting day. There is no pressure.”
Meeke and Wilson were joined at the event by Top Gear's
former Stig, Ben Collins. Collins was there to raise funds and awareness for the Race2Recovery campaign, which has set itself a challenging goal: to compete in, and finish, the 2013 Dakar Rally and in the process, raise £2m for wounded British servicemen and their families.
Collins did a live interview with the team of injured servicemen on the main Rallyday stage and he also took a few people for a ride in one of the Qt Wildcats on show in the new dedicated 4x4 Rally Raid Zone.
“It is great to be here at my local circuit, very near to where I live in Bristol and it is good to be here with the Race2Recovery team,” Collins said. “It is a really cool day and it looks like the spectators are having good time.”
Also attending was former works WRC ace, Harri Rovanperä, who gave MML Sports' new R4 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X its UK debut. Rovanperä competed with the team back in 2005, albeit in its former guise, as the works Mitsubishi squad.
Rallyday not only showcases new cars though but also those from yesteryear, and one such collection was the Sierra Cosworth 25th anniversary display, with former British Rally Champions Jimmy McRae, Russell Brookes and Gwyndaf Evans,
along with Stuart Turner, there to share their memories with the crowd of this iconic car.
Former British Leyland Team driver Brian Culcheth attended the event for the first time too and drove an original ex-works Mini Cooper which gave great contrast to Meeke in the Prodrive-run MINI John Cooper Works WRC car.
Other stars at the event included David Higgins and his co-driver, Craig Drew (fresh from winning the 2011 Rally America National Championship back in the summer) and Rallyday hosts, Tony Mason (1972 RAC winning co-driver with Roger Clark) and Howard Davies (1996 BRC winning co-driver with Gwyndaf Evans).
“I've enjoyed this year's show very much,” said Mason. “The weather wasn't up to the usual standard because here at Rallyday - and this is the eleventh running of it and I have been to all of them - I think we have only had two where we have had a bit of rain. Today there have been some downpours. But still there was a great atmosphere and I think everyone enjoyed it as usual.”
The AWDC (All Wheel Drive Club), Camel Trophy, G4 vehicles plus the Race2Recovery team meanwhile performed infield demonstrations in a selection of amazing off road machinery including the very latest Qt Wildcats, while the Castrol Edge Feature Rally Stage and Strictly Sideways Competition were as popular as ever (the latter won overall by Simon Mauger in his Escort MkII).
Rallyday organisers Brian Stubbings and Darin Frow were both extremely pleased with how well the event went: “I think Rallyday had more attractions for visitors to see and do than ever before,” said Stubbings. “Two current World Rally Teams demonstrating their very latest WRC cars is quite a spectacle but when combined with Historic rally cars and just about everything in-between we are covering all the bases. We would like to thank all the supporting teams, traders and clubs as without their support the event would not be possible.”
Frow added: “The weather forecasts and current economic climate meant that 2011 was not quite as busy as in recent years however it certainly didn't stop the action or dampen the excitement. The development of our new 4x4 Rally Raid Zone made it an ambitious show this year but that area proved to be very successful; it definitely has great potential going into 2012 alongside the events regular attractions.”
MC-Video took extensive video footage at the event, which will be shown on Motors TV
on Wednesday 12th October 2011.
You can also re-live the eleventh Rallyday by checking out the official podcast, available on the Rallyday website event news page later this week and also free to download from iTunes.
For more information please visit www.rallyday.comAll pictures courtesy of www.rallygallery.com.