- Dayinsure Wales Rally GB pays homage to iconic Group B era
- Stars and cars to mark 30th anniversary of Group B’s end
- Special showcase and demos at Cholmondeley Castle RallyFest
- All Group B cars invited to join the commemorative tribute
It’s 30 years since rallying’s legendary Group B cars were outlawed at World Championship level and this autumn’s Dayinsure Wales Rally GB (27-30 October) will mark this milestone with heroic stars and fearsome cars from that revered era.
Top drivers from the sport’s most audacious epoch are being invited to attend the event as official ‘Rally Legends’ and a special showcase of these compelling Group B supercars will be one of the major attractions at the family-friendly Cholmondeley Castle RallyFest in association with GreenThumb on Saturday 29 October.
Often termed ‘Formula 1 in the forests’, Group B regulations were introduced for the 1982 season with only a few restrictions and allowing almost unlimited power. Cars could be mid-engined two-seaters and manufacturers only had to produce 200 examples that bore no more than a passing resemblance to showroom models to meet minimal homologation requirements.
As a result, in the four years between 1983 and 1986, rallying developed further and faster than it had done in the previous four decades. Group B took the sport to the absolute edge of performance, but put it beyond common sense and reasonable safety levels. When FISA, the then world governing body, culled the category following a series of terrifying accidents, Group B was immortalised.
Though ultimately short-lived, the epic Group B era has since acquired legendary status and nowhere more so than in the UK. Back in November 1986, Britain’s round of the FIA World Rally Championship was the last time these outrageous beasts would ever compete in Europe, as Juha Kankkunen was crowned as Group B’s final World Champion.
Incredibly, the entry list for the European swansong featured more than 50 Group B cars. All the major supercars were out in force – Lancia Delta S4s, Peugeot 205 Turbo 16s, Ford RS200s, MG Metro 6R4s and several privately-run Audi quattros (the factory team had decided to withdraw following Henri Toivonen’s fatal fireball accident in Corsica) – as well as some of the genre’s less extreme combatants such as the Opel Manta 400, Nissan 240RS and Skoda 130LR.
The list of drivers competing was equally impressive, with Kankkunen lining up alongside the likes of Stig Blomqvist, Markku Alén, Tony Pond, Harri Toivonen (Henri’s younger brother), Malcolm Wilson, David Llewellin, Jimmy McRae, Russell Brookes and eventual 1986 Rally GB winner Timo Salonen.
Now, to mark the 30th anniversary of that landmark event, many of these iconic machines and idolised aces will be part of a massive gathering at the Cholmondeley Castle RallyFest. All owners of Group B cars are invited to bring their machines to the Saturday spectator stage either to be part of a static display or to perform demonstration runs on the same special stage that will host the WRC top guns later in the day.
“These epic Group B monsters really caught the public’s imagination back in the eighties and it’s no surprise that they continue to do so today,” said Ben Taylor, Managing Director of Wales Rally GB. “It was here in Britain that most of them last appeared on a World Rally Championship event, so we have a great opportunity to do something really special in October. We are inviting a number of drivers to join us and we are encouraging as many Group B cars as possible to get involved in what’s going to be an unforgettable occasion at Cholmondeley.”
Cholmondeley Castle RallyFest offers great value for a full day’s high-octane entertainment – alongside the awe-inspiring Group B displays and the WRC action will be a raft of other attractions and entertainment for all ages. What’s more, as this year’s rally falls in the October half-term, all children aged 15 and under go free!
Adult ticket prices start at just £20 in advance (£30 on the gate) for the RallyFest alone, while a £25 Saturday day ticket or £99 full 4-day event pass also include the Cholmondeley event. All tickets include free parking and an event programme priced at £9. Fabulous hospitality packages are also available at Cholmondeley.
The latest event and ticket information can be found on the official www.walesrallygb.com website.