Harri Toivonen and Markko Martin will both join the line-up at Rallyday 2014, the fourteenth edition of the UK's Premier Rally Car Show that will take place on Saturday September 20 at Wiltshire's Castle Combe Circuit, it has been confirmed.
The Toivonen name is synonymous with rallying and motorsport and Harri will be there as part of the celebrations to mark the 30th anniversary of the Metro 6R4, the car that has gone on to become one of Britain's best loved rally cars of all time.
The Finn drove the 6R4 during 1986, the same year that his older brother, Henri, who was surely destined for greatness, was tragically killed while leading the Tour de Corse FIA World Rally Championship event in Corsica. Harri and Henri's father, Pauli incidentally was also well known for his exploits in rallying and was crowned the European Rally Champion in 1968 with Porsche.
“I'm thrilled to come to Rallyday 2014 to celebrate the Metro 6R4 and spend a day with all my old friends, team-mate Dai Llewellin and all fans of the car - I hope there will be some of my fans there also! I would like to thank the organisers for inviting me there to have fun with all of you,” said Harri.
Markko meanwhile is also a name that will be very familiar to rally fans. The Estonian competed in the WRC from 2000 to 2005 with Subaru, Ford and Peugeot. He won five events in total and finished third in the Championship in 2004.
Martin, who now owns his own successfully rally team in Estonia, is scheduled to drive an ex-Colin McRae Subaru Impreza WRC in the headline Castrol Edge Feature Stage. He will also be there in his role as a patron for the Richard Burns Foundation as he was a close friend of the 2001 World Rally Champion.
“It will be something new for me. I have never been to the event, but I have read a lot about it. It will be nice to come and experience it myself. I still miss some of the crowd and the atmosphere from 10-15 years ago,” he said.
“It will also be great fun and a great experience to drive one of McRae's old cars. I know the old Imprezas and Legacys are special - they are cars every rally fan has memories of. It will be good to drive one of them. Seeing lots of old historic cars you don't see every day is always nice – and just to hear them is special. In some ways for me it is more interesting than seeing the current cars.”
In addition to Harri and Markko's attendance, plans are in place for the brand new Mitsubishi R5 to be launched at the event. The car has been designed, built and developed by Swedish motorsport engineer Tomas Weng and his team at M-Part and it is based on a Mitsubishi Mirage.
The project began at the start of 2013 and, although the car made its public debut as a rolling shell in Sweden last summer, Rallyday will be the first time the car has appeared outside Scandinavia.
Provided the final elements of the project can be completed, the car will be seen in action publically for the very first time on the Castrol Edge Feature Stage.
The R5 project has also been approved by Mitsubishi and, although full homologation is yet to be confirmed, M-Part has received a huge number of enquiries for the car. Full production is expected to commence this autumn, with the first batch of cars delivered in time for the start of the 2015 season.
Rallyday organisers Darin Frow and Jo Stubbings believe the addition of Toivonen and Martin further compliments this year's line-up that also includes 1979 World Rally Champion Bjorn Waldegard, unofficial 1978 World Rally Champion Markku Alen, and British Rally Champions David Llewellin and Gwyndaf Evans.
“Rallyday has always been a very personal event for me and Jo - especially since we lost Brian [Stubbings - Rallyday co-founder] last year. The Metro 6R4 and the Toivonen name were both at the top of Brian's lists so I'm overwhelmed that Harri has accepted our invitation to be a part of our 6R4 celebration at this year's show. It's guaranteed to be one of this year's highlights!” Darin said.
“Of course Rallyday tries to cover all bases including the more recent cars and WRC drivers, so we're thrilled to welcome Markko to his first Rallyday. With the Richard Burns Foundation being one of Rallyday's long supported charities, and Markko being an RBF patron, there's added reason to celebrate his attendance at this year's show and it will be great for the fans to meet him on the RBF stand and get his autograph.
“In many cases the rally cars themselves are celebrities too, and this will certainly be the case with the new Mitsubishi R5. Having a new car officially launched at the show is a first for Rallyday and I'm sure everyone will be eagerly anticipating the unveiling.”
Tickets for Rallyday 2014 are on sale now, with advance tickets for adults costing £15 (if booked before 5th September) or £20 on the day. Accompanied children under 16 go FREE.
For more information, visit www.rallyday.com