Donington Historic Festival will play host to a series of spectacular live demonstrations on May 3rd, 4th and 5th when the Rallying with Group B organisation and the Historic Rally Car Register (HRCR) join forces to bring added excitement to an already action-packed weekend.
The sight and sound of the Group B cars taking to the tarmac, all spitting flames and whining turbos will be enormously exciting.
The Historic Rally Car Register celebrates its 30th anniversary at the Festival. Initially founded to preserve genuine ex-works rally cars, the overwhelming response to its first-ever rally in 1983 marked the foundation of the international historic rallying movement. HRCR members are providing a wide selection of historic rally cars to represent a full cross-section of all aspects of historic rallying at the Festival.
The impressive variety of cars on display at the festival will include Mini Coopers – made famous when HRCR President Paddy Hopkirk took one to victory on the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally – and Sunbeam Tigers, linked with the Alpine Rallies of the mid 1960s. MGs and Austin Healeys will also take part, together with cars representing the long-distance events of the 1970s such as the Triumph 2000 and Austin 1800, plus Mk1 and 2 Ford Escorts, which now achieve major successes within the British Historic Rally Championship.
Throughout the Festival Donington Park’s Melbourne Loop will see the legendary Group B rally machines in action; a powerful reminder of the 1980s, when Donington Park was a RAC Rally stage and Group B cars dominated the world of international rallying. The Melbourne Loop will also see stage and road rally cars from the HRCR – including, it is hoped, several iconic ex-works cars from the 1950s and 60s – tackle a mini stage-type course and autotest, showing just how nimble they can be, and demonstrating why historic rallying has become such a popular sport.
With its live action demonstrations, Rallying with Group B recreates the glory days of a short but significant era from rallying history. Introduced in 1982, Group B regulations resulted in outrageously fast performances from cars such as the Audi quattro, MG Metro 6R4, Ford RS200, Lancia 037, Porsche 911 RSR and Peugeot 205 T16. Lightweight composite panels, four-wheel drive systems, complex turbo and supercharging combined to produce cars which, with in excess of 600bhp at their command, could out-accelerate Formula One cars of the period on gravel. However, in 1987, following a number of high-profile accidents and prominent driver deaths, Group B was banned, with enthusiasts’ only chance to see the cars in action now restricted to demonstration events.
And, of course, with the Festival’s open paddock, spectators will be able to get a really good look at all the rally cars as well as the more than 400 historic racing cars, spanning seven decades, which are due to compete at the event.
Donington Historic Festival organiser Duncan Wiltshire said, “We are thrilled that the two clubs are staging what promises to be an unforgettable spectacle for Festival visitors, to compliment the fantastic historic racing.
‘The sight and sound of the Group B cars taking to the tarmac, all spitting flames and whining turbos will be enormously exciting, while the HRCR displays will show spectators that the cars many of us remember from the roads of our youth are capable of considerably more than a trip up the motorway. I suspect more than a few of our visitors will go away vowing to give historic rallying a go for themselves!
Photo credit: Peter Austin