Rallying with Group B and the Historic Rally Car Register (HRCR) will be burning considerable amounts of rubber with spectacular demonstrations out on the Melbourne Loop at the Donington Historic Festival (May 3rd, 4th and 5th 2014). And when the rally cars are taking a rest, over 80 historic karts will give a hugely entertaining reminder of how so many of the biggest names in motor racing got started, as the British Historic Kart Club presents demonstrations that are due to include Ayrton Senna’s 1979 DAP and several unique machines such as the 1960 Mayler suspension kart.
Back in the 1980s, Donington Park was an RAC Rally stage and, in a short but significant era from rallying history, Group B cars dominated the world of international rallying. 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 restricted to demonstration events. 2014 marks the 30th anniversary of the 6R4, and Group B is staging a special display of these iconic rally machines at the Festival.
As well as the introduction of Group B, 1982 also saw the start of the fledgling historic rally movement, when the RAC ran the Lombard Golden 50 Rally to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the first-ever RAC Rally. As a follow-on from this event, a group of enthusiasts decided to set up the Historic Rally Car Register and, over the next two years, historic rallying rapidly gained popularity. The HRCR has been at the forefront of historic rallying ever since.
At the 2014 Donington Historic Festival, the HRCR will run a series of auto-tests on the Melbourne Loop and will field a guest driver who worked with the Rootes Group Competitions Department during the period when the Sunbeam Tiger was the model of choice for many international events. Together with Sunbeam Tigers, a full range of classic rally cars will be put through their paces, including Mini Coopers, Austin-Healeys and Ford Escorts.
The Loop makes a kart circuit that is great to drive, so is likely to prove very popular with the BHKC members, who will demonstrate a unique collection of karts dating from the start of the sport in 1956 right up to 1982, the formative years of karting. The location provides superb viewing for spectators, who will be close to the track action and also have the opportunity to see the karts close up and chat with the owners to find out all about these lively little machines and their fascinating history.
Star drivers will include British Historic Kart Club Patron, Barrie (Whizzo) Williams, driving one of his father’s creations, a Fastakart/Villiers, manufactured in Bromyard (Worcestershire) in 1959. The kart is prepared and co-driven by Brian Jordan who is a former Fastakart works driver and well-known classic car competitor. Other karting legends expected to join are former European Champion Reg Gange Jnr, former British Champions, Bill Longden (210cc – 1984), Bob Phair (250cc – 1976), Rob Cooper (200cc – 1970) and Peter Freeman (Class IV World Champion – 1961), along with American Ed McDonough, who started karting in 1958.
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.
Advance discounted tickets on sale
The Donington Historic Festival offers world-class historic motorsport at family-friendly prices, with advance ticket discounts making the price of entry even more friendly. Advance tickets cost £20 for a single day ticket, £32 for a two-day ticket and just £45 for a three-day weekend ticket (on-the-gate prices will be £25, £40 and £60, respectively). Kids aged 13 and under are admitted for free. Advance discounted tickets can be bought via http://www.doningtonhistoric.com and through the 24-hour ticket hotline 0844 873 7355. Advance ticket sales close at 5pm on Wednesday, April 30th 2014.
With close-fought racing every day, historic karting and rally car action and a ‘living motoring museum’ created by dozens of car clubs displays, plus a host of other entertainment and attractions, exhilaration and entertainment is guaranteed on every day of the Festival.
Photo courtesy: Syd Wall / Donington Historic Festival