Rallyday is the UK’s premier rally car show, drawing devotees of the rough and tumble motorsport from far and wide. The 2014 edition took place at Wiltshire’s famous Castle Combe circuit with a plethora of four wheeled rallying legends taking to the track for a day of tyre screeching action.
Among the hundreds of cars filling the bustling paddock was the Ford Escort RS1800 piloted to victory by Björn Waldegård in the inaugural WRC drivers’ world championship in 1979. Another undoubted highlight was the cavalcade of Lancia Stratos HFs, surely one of the most evocative rally cars of all times. These unlikely off-road warriors were near unbeatable in their early 70s heyday, clinching three successive constructors’ world titles for Lancia from 1974 to 1976 as well as scooping the inaugural FIA European Rallycross trophy.
The Stratos wasn’t the only iconic Lancia to write its own chapter in the WRC history books. The Lancia Delta S4 was one of the most successful of the short-lived but infamous breed of Group B rally cars. Even after a string of fatal accidents brought an end to this near-unregulated formula in 1986, the Delta continued to tear up the record books in the form of the more restrained Group A class Integrale model. Several of the original Deltas that delivered an unprecedented six consecutive WRC titles for Lancia from 1987 to 1992 were out on track at Castle Combe.
As if that wasn’t enough, fans were also treated to a display from yet another WRC great, the crowd pleasing Mitsubishi Lancer piloted to four world championships by Tommi Mäkinen. This formidable pairing of man and machine dominated rallying in the mid-90s and the modern-day “Evo” still owes much of its popularity and reputation to those WRC roots.
Naturally, the UK’s biggest celebration of rallying wouldn’t be complete without honouring the memory of Britain’s two sadly departed world champions. The Richard Burns Foundation, set up in memory of the 2001 world champion, who lost his fight with cancer in 2005, aims to help those affected by any serious illness or injury. To help raise funds and awareness for this good cause, the great man’s championship winning Subaru Impreza WRC made an appearance, drawing in the crowds.
As Britain’s first WRC winner, and still the youngest man to do so, Colin McRae is fondly remembered by all lovers of motorsport. Several of the cars he piloted to 25 rally wins during an eventful career were on show at Rallyday, including the 1999 Martini Ford Focus and most famously the Subaru Impreza 555 in which he claimed the 1995 drivers’ title.
Britain certainly has a proud rallying past and, after several lean years, its future now looks to be in good hands too. As the paddock filled with enthusiastic fans eager to get up close and personal with the era-defining machines on display, Inside Lane nipped behind the scenes at the M-Sport rally trailer to grab a word with current WRC star Elfyn Evans.