RALLY CHAMP MARK HIGGINS DRIVES ASTON MARTIN V8 RALLY GT CAR ON RACE RETRO LIVE RALLY STAGE
Three times British Rally Champion Mark Higgins will be in action on the Live Rally Stage on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th at this year’s Race Retro, the international historic motorsport show, when it races into Stoneleigh Park from the 13th to 15th March. Mark will drive David Appleby Engineering’s Aston Martin V8 Rally as part of the Slowly Sideways GB Ltd display of Group B cars.
Mark has never driven the Pro-Drive supplied V8 420bhp Aston Martin before but has driven his fair share of Astons as he was one of the stunt driving team in last year’s movie blockbuster Quantum of Solace. And his stunt driving skills may come in useful as he will pitch his skills against the rally legend ‘Flying Finn’ Rauno Aaltonen, who will also drive the Aston Martin V8 Rally GT as well as driving his ex works Monte Carlo Rally Mini Cooper S.
Mark Higgins said: “It’s great to be involved with Race Retro as I have always been a fan of historic loud rally cars and the chance to drive David Appleby's V8 Rally GT will be brilliant fun and entertaining for the spectators. It’s going to be very interesting to drive in a competitive way because I think the format of 420bhp and just rear wheel drive should be amazing fun and it’s always a privilege to drive an Aston."
The Appleby Engineering team will be promoting the sale of the Aston Martin V8 Rally GT as an off the shelf rally car that can be purchased in full rally trim from £90,000. Potential clients are welcome to visit the show and talk though the options with David and his team.
The Rally GT is based on the Aston Martin V8 Vantage but has been extensively re-engineered by Prodrive. As part of it development programme, the Rally GT has already competed in three French Rally Championship events, coming second in the Series GT class on its debut at the Lyon to Charbonniers Rally. The car was also used in the Race of Champions and proved to be a favourite with the crowd and drivers alike.
As with the DBR9, the Rally GT uses a standard road car chassis which is fitted with a Prodrive-designed roll cage for safety and increased torsional rigidity. The engine is closely based on the all alloy road car 4.3 litre V8 unit but has been tuned to make it more flexible and responsive for the demands of rallying.
The suspension on the Rally GT carries over the road car's wishbones, but has new competition Eibach springs and three-way adjustable EXE-TC dampers. The six-speed, close ratio dog engagement gearbox is now fitted, developed specifically for the Rally GT.
David has been developing the car further and has fitted a hydraulic handbrake/linelock system and has designed and manufactured a lamp pod for the night stages. He will continue to compete and develop the car further.
Other celebrity drivers confirmed so far include Paddy Hopkirk and Russell Brookes, who will be driving his championship winning Andrews Heat for Hire sponsored cars including the Opel Manta 400, Lotus Sunbeam, and Ford Sierra Cosworth, on the Live Rally Stage.
Slowly Sideways GB is back with over 20 genuine ex works Group B rally cars tearing it up on the Live Rally Stage. These will include the Audi Quattro S1, Ford RS200, MG Metro 6R4, Lancia 037 Rallye, Peugeot 205T16, Renault R5 Maxi turbo, Porsche RSR and an Opel Manta 400, as well as an impressive array of Escorts. The organisers are also hoping to have the Ferrari 308 GTB Rallye in action alongside the other impressive marques previously mentioned. The outdoor live action line up is completed with a demonstration from the popular Historic Kart Racing.
A first for Race Retro is the chance for visitors to get a taste for exhilaration themselves as they have the opportunity to have a ride in a Caterham within Stoneleigh Park. For just ten pounds, visitors will be taken around the circuit by a professional racing driver as well as receiving a memento of their ride.
The action on the outdoor Live Rally Stage takes place on Saturday and Sunday only and is included in the cost of the show ticket. Adult ticket prices are £20 for Friday and £15 for Saturday and Sunday when booking in advance and offer free parking. Children’s tickets on Friday are £5 but then free all weekend. The show is open from 9.30am each day and closes at 5.30pm on Friday and Saturday and 4.30pm on Sunday. To book tickets and for the latest updates, visit raceretro.com