Sunshine, selfies and superstars summed up Saturday’s Rallyday at Castle Combe, Wiltshire.
Thousands of fans turned out to watch some of the world’s fastest drivers and the fastest rally car in history – M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta WRC – put on an unforgettable display on an unforgettable day.
M-Sport managing director and former British Rally Champion Malcolm Wilson OBE summed up the day in one word: “magical.”
Rallyday organiser Tom Davis agreed with the Cumbrian, whose team leads both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ World Rally Championships heading into the final three rounds of this year’s series.
“To have Malcolm using a word like that to describe Rallyday is fantastic to hear,” said Davis. “So much hard work goes into running a day like Saturday and when it all comes together in the way it did last weekend, it’s really something special.
“We have to thank, an awful lot of people for what they did to help make Saturday the amazing show it was – not least our sponsors COOPER TIRES, Reis Insurance, Super Pro and Palletforce. And then there’s M-Sport, who brought so many amazing cars and vans down.”
Davis reserved a special thanks to the car clubs, volunteers and people who brought their cars to show or run on track.
“It never ceases to amaze me how many people bring their cars to Rallyday,” said Davis, “we had around 1,000 on show on Saturday and each and every one of those cars has real pedigree and interest – these guys are the backbone of Rallyday. All the national and club-level drivers are amazing, as are the volunteers and club members. We couldn’t do what we do without them.
“We’ve already started thinking about next year and what we can do to expand and improve on Saturday, but it was a good one. My special memory of the day has to be seeing the tribute parade of cars to Colin McRae. Ten years ago, when Colin died, we lost a true legend and hero of our world and to see so many cars and fans remembering him was an emotional and special moment.”
Rallyday also offered the first public viewing of one of the sensational 2017-specification World Rally Cars, with Estonian Ott Tänak doing the honours by delivering the hottest of Castle Combe laps in the Ford Fiesta WRC he will drive at next week’s Rally Spain.
Tänak was joined by fellow current WRC stars Elfyn Evans and Jari-Matti Latvala and all three admitted Rallyday had lived up to expectations.
Tänak said: “It’s been a great day: nice people, nice cars and nice weather. It’s always nice to meet the fans and there were so many of them at Rallyday this weekend. It was also a real pleasure to be the first person to drive a new generation world rally car in front of the UK fans – I think they enjoyed it as much as I did.”
Evans said: “This event gets better every year, and this year was no exception. There were so many cars and fans here this year and we had a lot of fun showing off with a few donuts out on the track.”
Latvala said: “I had a fantastic time at Rallyday. There were so many cars to see and so many people to meet. I had no idea there would be so many different cars here and the best thing is that a lot of them were being driven on the track. It’s so much better to see them moving rather than just standing still.”
Away from the current WRC stars, 1984 world champion Stig Blomqvist was a huge hit as was flying Finn Harri Toivonen, Colin McRae’s co-driver Nicky Grist, British Rally Champion Keith Cronin and World Rallycross star Andreas Bakkerud.
Davis added: “Obviously, a lot of the show is about the stars, but there’s so much more to Rallyday, including the off-road displays, the family area and the huge number of stalls where you could buy just about anything you were after from a cup of coffee to a full exhaust system or even a van designed by Guy Martin!
“Saturday was the perfect day. The challenge for 2018 is building on perfection!”