Britain’s premier rally show bounced back after two difficult years.
In a break from tradition, Rallyday changed to an early July date this year following a few tough years.
First in 2020/21 suffering the effects of the pandemic followed by the funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II falling within 36 hours of the 2022 show, but this year the popular annual Castle Combe based show bounced back with a host of star rally names, iconic cars, and solid backing from within the sport.
Star personalities included 2019 European Rally Champion Chris Ingram, 1984 World Rally Champion Stig Blomqvist, former WRC co-driver Nicky Grist, 1989/90 British Rally Champion David Llewellin and son Tom, himself a Junior Rally X Champion.
Other former champions included 1990 Ladies World Rally Champion Louise Aitken-Walker and Presenter Holly McRae (above), daughter of the much-missed 1995 World Rally Champion Colin McRae.
All these genial and communicative personalities proved great value on the interview stage, interrogated throughout the day by former championship co-driver turned master inquisitor, the irrepressible Howard Davies.
The show – held in ideal dry and warm weather – also provided nonstop action on the Legends rally stage which creatively utilising the 73-year-old circuit’s pitlane and track while providing adventurous spectators with the opportunity to take guest rides with real rally drivers in real rally cars, including Ford Focus, Toyota Celica GT-4, and Subaru Impreza.
But for those seeking a more relaxing day there was a paddock trade village complete with multiple food outlets catering for all tastes, and displays which included Bath Motor Club’s eclectic collection of cars ranging from an ex-BTCC Alfa Romeo 155 to Historic Rallying Austin A40 and original Morris Mini 850.
From the interview stage popular Rallyday regular Nicky Grist told fans about driving for Toyota Team Europe 1990-97, including his career total of 128 WRC rallies yielding 21 overall victories and 43 podium places.
Super-Stig Blomqvist talked of his 1984 championship year and taking the fearsome Audi A2 and Sport Quattro versions to five WRC rally victories to beat the redoubtable Hannu Mikkola to the title.
Then, to bring things up to date current rally hero Chris Ingram, along with American codriver Alex Kihurani, spoke (above) about finishing second overall on the recent Ardeca Ypres Rally and his burning ambition to return to the WRC2 class of the World Rally Championship.
Later, Ingram rapidly chauffeured Nicky Grist over the legends’ rally stage in the latter’s immaculate Toyota Celica GT-4 in works Castrol livery (below), a gift to the Ebbw Vale born co-driver after his successful time with the Toyota works team.
Fortunately, Nicky was able to keep Chris’s boundless enthusiasm and flamboyant driving style in check from the co-driver’s seat!
All considered, a successful July return for Rallyday, creating a solid basis to go forward in 2024.
© Words & images Ken Davies