MORE GROUP B STARS AT CHOLMONDELEY CASTLE RALLYFEST IN ASSOCIATION WITH GREENTHUMB
Louise Aitken-Walker, Russell Brookes and David Llewellin also join special celebrationRecord collection of Group B icons including Audis, Fords, Lancias and Peugeots Advance tickets now on sale from £20, kids go FREE
The legendary stars and cars from rallying’s epic Group B era will be out in force at the Cholmondeley Castle RallyFest on Saturday 29 October.
Marking 30 years since the world’s most powerful rally cars were outlawed at the end of 1986, nearly 40 of these iconic monsters will be back together for one day only at the special Group B Showcase in Cheshire.
The amazing line-up gathering for both display and demonstration runs comprises Audi quattros, Ford RS200s, MG Metro 6R4s, Peugeot 205 T16s, Renault 5 Maxi Turbos and a selection of Lancias plus a number of less well-known Group B machines from Citroen, Ferrari, Nissan and even Lada.
Not-to-be-missed highlights include Audi UK’s awesome S1, the ex-Hannu Mikkola Audi Sport quattro, the ex-Stig Blomqvist RS200 and the famous Prodrive Rothmans-liveried 6R4 rallied by Jimmy McRae in 1986.
Adding to the sense of occasion, some notable drivers from the period will also be present. World champions and Group B rally winners Ari Vatanen and Miki Biasion have already been confirmed and now they will be joined by Louise Aitken-Walker MBE, Russell Brookes, David Llewellin and Harri Toivonen.
Aitken-Walker, FIA Ladies World Rally Champion in 1990, arrived late on the Group B scene when contesting the 1986 British Open Championship in a Nissan 240RS – a series won the previous year by Brookes in a Group B specification Opel Manta 400.
Like Brookes, Llewellin is a double British champion and another with considerable Group B experience. He rallied both all-conquering Audi quattros and MG Metro 6R4s, the mighty mid-engined V6 machine designed for Austin Rover by the Williams F1 team.
Back in November 1986, all three were among more than 50 Group B crews to enter the formula’s Rally GB finale; Llewellin finished ninth in the 6R4, Aitken-Walker 15th in the Nissan and Brookes retired the Manta with an engine problem.
Harri Toivonen was another to contest that swansong event 30 years ago in a 6R4. It was a poignant occasion for the Finn as his elder brother Henri had lost his life earlier in the season rallying a Lancia S4 – an accident which effectively resulted in the authorities banning these ferociously fast Group B supercars.
“I have hugely mixed emotions about Group B,” admitted the Finn. “It was like a coin with two opposing sides – the very best and very worst time in rallying. Sure, it was dangerous and the cars were scary as they were so quick, but that’s what a driver wants – an adrenaline rush.”
Henri’s tragic demise – together with that of his co-driver Sergio Cresto – was a real game-changer. It not only spelt the end for what many still believe to be rallying’s most exciting epoch, but also robbed the sport of its brightest rising star and a talent much-loved in Britain. Indeed, two of Henri’s three WRC victories came on Rally GB. In 1980, he became the WRC’s youngest ever winner with his breakthrough triumph when competing in a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus and then gave Lancia’s fearsome S4 a maiden success in 1985.
“Both Henri and I always loved being in the UK,” confirmed Harri. “We enjoyed doing the British Open Championship and Henri lived there for a while – it always has a big space in our hearts. That’s why I’m looking forward in a big way to coming back later this month. I will be among so many good friends and it will bring back lots of old memories. The one thing I really, really like is that there are so, so, so many people who remember my brother and that is fantastic.”
Fans attending this month’s Dayinsure Wales Rally GB will have two great opportunities to share their memories with Harri and all the other Group B legends. The first will be in the free-to-attend WRC gathering in central Chester on Friday evening, the second at the special Group B Showcase at the Cholmondeley Castle RallyFest in association with GreenThumb on Saturday.
If purchased in advance, tickets for the family-friendly RallyFest are priced at just £20, with FREE admission for accompanied children aged 15 and under. Admission is also open to those with Saturday day tickets, available for £25 in advance with the full four-day World Rally Pass priced at £99. All tickets include free parking and an event programme priced at £9. A hospitality option is available for those seeking a little extra comfort, too.
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