Rally Fever At Goodwood

The rally stage at the Goodwood Festival Of Speed provides a complete contrast to the buzzing, packed areas around the hill-climb course and the car companies’ enormous marketing stands. At the top of the hill-climb, just the other side of the finish-line grandstands, is the Forest Rally Stage paddock – and winding its way through the trees is the awesome stage itself.

The crackle and pop of the rally cars’ exhausts echoed around the trees as you walked up the last couple of hundred yards to the spectator areas, a walk which ran parallel with both the opening leg of the Forest Rally Stage and the finish of the hill-climb, providing the possibility of the surreal sight of a Formula 1 car on your left and a Group B rally car on your right at the same time. There aren’t many places you can say that…

Over 65 cars took on the challenging course: the stage itself was designed by 1983 WRC champion Hannu Mikkola and has undergone a couple of revisions over the years.

It’s now a 2.5km sprint down a very narrow loose surface course, starting off with a series of sweepers and short straights before hitting the tight and twisty section at the far end.

The return leg is then a fast blast interrupted by a couple of deceptively tight S-bends and the jump just before the finish.

With intermittent rain falling on the opening day, the rally stage became even more of a challenge than normal: the water made the clay-like surface glutinous in parts, and speeds dropped dramatically. That didn’t make things any less spectacular – quite the reverse in fact!

Isolated marshals posts around the track took care of track safety – with such a narrow, tree-lined track, any stoppage or accident required instant reactions and the scrambling of the recovery trucks.

The runs round the stage over the three main days of the Festival were split into four main classifications, beginning with the Birth Of Stage Rallying. This group encompassed cars from the early days of international rallying during the ’60s and ’70s.

Ford Escorts are still one of the most popular and spectacular ways of getting round a stage quickly. The 1975 MkII RS1800 a picture up was joined by a number of fellow Escorts, like this iconic Rothmans-liveried RS1800 from 1979. In period it was driven by Ari Vatenen.

This is from the period where Ford had withdrawn factory support for the Escorts, with the cars then run by privateer David Sutton with backing from Rothmans. The 1981 title would go to Vatenen and his MkII.

This 1975 RS1800 was running in the livery used by Roger Clark on his victorious run in the UK’s 1976 RAC Rally.

The Brits would use pretty much anything as a rally car given the chance, such as giant-killing Minis and saloons more used to circuit racing, like this Triumph Dolomite Sprint GRP2 from 1974. The Doli had just emerged from a ground-up restoration, and was competing at Goodwood for the first time.

Sideways Chevettes always fared better in period on tarmac than on the loose – but in any case they were always fighting a losing battle against the emerging all-wheel-drive Audi Quattros. This HSR is from 1982 – it mounts a 2.2-litre four-cylinder. Bows and arrows against the lightning.

Cousin to the Chevette was this Chevrolet Firenza Can Am. It was built in South Africa in 1973 and based on the Vauxhall Viva HC with a small-block 5.3-litre V8 dropped in the nose. Fast and furious.

Lancia and Fiat headed up the mighty Italian factory teams that were gunning for the Escorts. The Fulvia showed that front-wheel-drive could still win. Sandro Munari, Pat Moss (sister of Stirling and one of the most successful female rally drivers of all time), Rauno Altonen and Hannu Mikkola (a name that keeps on popping up) all drove Fulvia Coupés in period.

Abarth gave the 131 the tweaks required to turn it into a hugely successful rally car, taking a compact, nondescript family car and injecting steroidal wheel arches, flared spoilers and plenty of power. They then added another instantly recognisable livery to create a car that took the World Rally Championship manufacturers’ title two years out of three between 1978 and 1980.

Before the 131 was the 124 Abarth. The 124 had the potential for success, and from time to time delivered – such as the podium lock-out on the Portuguese rally in 1973 – but the main problem for the 124 was the car that’s next up…

It always seems like a mistake when you categorise a Lancia Stratos HF with cars that are its contemporaries. With its striking lines and unique engine sound from its Ferrari V6 the futuristic Stratos might have been built in 1974 but looked like it came from a different planet.

The emerging Japanese manufacturers had quickly hooked onto rallying as a way to promote their cars: getting big name drivers on board helped their cause. Hannu Mikkola took his Toyota Corolla Levin to a breakthrough win on the 1975 1000 Lakes.

Current owner and driver Geoff Maybank now runs the 1971-spec Corolla. Its 1.6-litre four-cylinder lacked grunt in its original spec, but the factory developed the car into an effective stage weapon.

Corollas have a long legacy in rallying: this 1.6 GT Coupé from 1979 ran well in the lower tier of rallying before being replaced by the Celicas to gun for outright wins; the Corolla name would return to the top level in the ’90s, taking the WRC manufacturers’ title in 1999.

Toyota’s next foray was with the Celica 2000GT Twin Cam: this car sat right on the edge of the class’ classification for the Festival, having been built in 1981. This particular Celica was entered by Team Toyota GB in the British Championship; the car in general excelled internationally on the long-distance endurance rallies of the time.

Similarly, Datsun stepped up with the 240Z. This is the 2.4-litre six-cylinder from 1972, built for the RAC Rally but a car that again found its biggest successes on the punishing stages of the Safari Rally.

Next up, the big draw: the Legendary Group B cars. Epic-looking, with vicious acceleration and monstrously fast top speeds, Group B cars are as impressive now as they were then.

The Lancia Rallye 037 was built in 1983 and was a purpose-built rear-drive silhouette rally-car. This 037, with its supercharged 2-litre four-cylinder, took the African Championship in ’83, hence the roof-mounted wheel rack and protective bars. Lancia would also take that year’s Manufacturers’ Championship with the 037.

Manufacturers were still taking stock cars and modifying them to the new rules though. In the hands of drivers like Russell Brookes (who drove the car both in period, winning the 1985 British Championship, and at the Festival), the Opel Manta 400 proved that a normally-aspirated, rear-wheel-drive car could still take on the AWD competition.

Another unexpected rally car was the Mazda RX-7 from 1985. Its 1.3-litre turbocharged rotary engine didn’t lack power, but putting it down was a problem…

Two driven wheels and 300hp meant the RX-7 was up against it when taking on AWD competition, but it certainly made for spectacular driving.

A 911 SCRS from 1984 sat beside its earlier counterpart, an RS from 1974. Just as the RS battled the Lancia Stratos in period, so the SCRS took on the 037 on the world’s stages.

Lada also stepped up to the international arena, taking the VFTS to the forests in the early ’80s with a car that bore a striking resemblance to the 131 Abarth of a decade previous…

But then came the second wave of Group B cars, which moved things onto another level – killing the championship in the process. The Metro 6R4, like the Ford RS200 below, had a short life in the WRC but went on to epic levels in rallycross competition guise.

The RS200 was the gun at a knife fight. F1-derived technology matched to a 1.8-litre turbocharged engine and all-wheel-drive meant that the RS200 was immediately competitive – but the knife fight was over almost as soon as the RS200 turned a wheel.

This RS200 bears the signature of one of its contemporary drivers, the legendary Stig Blomqvist.

Watching an RS200 is a mesmerising experience: it’s a rocket-ship from a standing start.

The Giants Of Modern Rallying took up where Group B left off, moving us on from the mid-1980s to the last decade. This meant more iconic liveries: more from Lancia and Martini with the Delta HF Intergrale, with three examples (two Martini plus a Totip-sponsored Jolly Club team car) on show.

Swap the blue for green, and it can only mean Castrol-sponsored Toyotas. A Celica GT-Four ST205 from 1995 was joined by an ST185 from ’92 and a Corolla WRC from ’98.

The latest version of the Corolla 1.6GT Coupé continued to do well in national rallies: in 1984 Per Eklund won the British Championship, and the twin-cam 16v engine had seen some serious work to make the car effective and entertaining.

Even big saloons were thrown at rallying during the ’80s, like the Rover SDI Vitesse – a car usually more at home on a circuit. That didn’t stop Tony Pond often embarrassing rivals in cars far more nimble…

Similarly, on paper the Sierra RS Cosworth seemed too ungainly for rallying, but a powerful turbocharged engine and drivers like Stig Blomqvist and Didier Auriol meant the Sierra was a regular visitor to the podium.

The Legacy RS was one of the cars that turned around the public’s perception of Subaru: Colin McRae gave Subaru their first international win at Rally New Zealand in 1993, after finishing second in Sweden in ’92. Colin’s father, Jimmy, drove the Legacy at Goodwood.

Imprezas then took up the cudgels for Subaru, winning the WRC three times between 1995 and 2003.

The later GD chassis version was also on show as a static display: a Richard Burns/Robert Reid car from 2001.

Another car too shiny to take to the stage was this pristine Celica.

Bringing things bang up to date were the cars in the Contemporary Rally Cars class, a collection of S2000, Dakar and national class cars topped off by Citroën’s DS3 WRC. Skoda’s Andreas Mikkelson, Jan Kopecky and Juho Hanninen were sharing this Fabia. As it was Mikkelson’s car, I did wonder if the other two were deliberately going that little bit harder…

Every time it passed the Fabia was absolutely on the limit!

Skoda were sponsoring the Forest Rally Stage, so had the area around the paddock entrance showing off various models. This included the Octavia vRS, which achieved the fastest time in the 2-litre supercharged production category at the Bonneville Speed Trials with a run of 227.080mph.

Also up by the Forest Rally Stage paddock was this Skoka Stonehenge…

However, it didn’t really matter which class or car you were watching: all entrants provided tail-out, gravel spewing entertainment, showcasing all that is great about rallying. Even on the way back down the hill to the main displays you could be tempted to take a passenger ride in a Bowler or off-road buggy. Where’s there’s mud… there’s fun.

Jonathan Moore

Speedhunters at the 2012 Goodwood Festival Of Speed



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

So much Lancia content, another winning article


So much Lancia content, another winning article


So much drool material. I have to visit the Festival of Speed. I have to promise myself to be there next year!


So much drool material. I have to visit the Festival of Speed. I have to promise myself to be there next year!


@SPEEDHUNTERS Beautiful pictures! Props to the photographer! :)


@SPEEDHUNTERS Cool photos :)


Thumb's up @BlackJacket , I swear Lancia has built the coolest rally machines in the world!!! XD Ah and haven't seen a GC on SH for a while...And still, dreaming everyday that Ford and Skoda would put a AWD/RWD drive train in their Fiesta and Fabia! >.<


old toyotas in rally  good  combination!!


:) Toyota rally love. I will make this event in my life!! Love the RS200 as well


I love rallying, and now I am unhappy I missed this event! Cool post Jonathan, with some seriously amazing photos! The Allied Polymer Escort RS1800 shot is pure artwork!! o_O


AMAZING photos. I would love to take them as good as you.


AMAZING photos. I would love to take them as good as you.


AMAZING photos. I would love to take them as good as you.


Great shots Jonathan, Love Brooke's Manta and McRae's Legacy RS is one of my all time favorites.


Great shots Jonathan, Love Brooke's Manta and McRae's Legacy RS is one of my all time favorites.


Great shots Jonathan, Love Brooke's Manta and McRae's Legacy RS is one of my all time favorites.


That Bastos Porsche 911 is shit hot. Awesome stuff!!

Pete the perfect pilot

Goodwood is a brilliant event.... Last year the highlight was the Le Mans winning Mazda from 91. The Rx7 was a weapon... rod millen was a star in his. The one running at goodwood this year had a 13B; pretty sure it wasn't turboed though?


Could you share a wallpaper of a Lada from this article. I realy love that car.