RALLY GB TO BOAST HUGE GROUP B FEST

Or­gan­is­ers are as­sem­bling cars and driv­ers at Chol­monde­ley Pho­tos: LAT, mck­lein-im­age­database.com, Writ­tle Pho­to­graphic Black hun­gry for more out­ings af­ter R5 de­but

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - By David Evans

Next month’s Wales Rally GB will be graced by the big­gest gath­er­ing of Group B cars since the cat­e­gory was con­tro­ver­sially killed 30 years ago.

Mo­tor­sport News is work­ing in part­ner­ship with the or­gan­is­ers of Bri­tain’s round of the World Rally Cham­pi­onship to de­liver a stun­ning dis­play at the Chol­monde­ley Cas­tle Ral­lyfest stage on Satur­day Oc­to­ber 29.

Two-time world cham­pion Miki Bi­a­sion, who broke his WRC duck by win­ning Rally Ar­gentina in 1986 in a fear­some Lan­cia Delta S4, is the first to con­firm he will at­tend the Deeside­based event to help com­mem­o­rate the Group B era.

Bi­a­sion said: “Ob­vi­ously, I won my ti­tles in a Group A car, but ev­ery­one al­ways wants to talk about the Group B era. It was a fan­tas­tic pe­riod for the sport – the cars were pow­er­ful and very pop­u­lar with the fans. Peo­ple still talk about us like he­roes.

“Sadly the team man­age­ment of­ten stopped me from driv­ing on the RAC [Rally]. They thought Ital­ians could not drive in the forests. That’s why I was so happy to be so com­pet­i­tive and prove them wrong – when I first went there in 1990, I fin­ished on the podium.

“It will be a plea­sure to come back to Bri­tain in Oc­to­ber. I have a lot of old friends there and I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to meet­ing them and the rally fans who, I know, re­ally love the Group B cars.”

There has al­ready been an in­cred­i­ble re­sponse with all fron­trun­ning Group B man­u­fac­tur­ers rep­re­sented. The cars will form a static dis­play at the Cheshire venue, with most also run­ning in con­voy through the stage ahead of the main WRC field.

Like this year, Bri­tain wasn’t the fi­nal round of the cham­pi­onship in 1986 – but the RAC was the last mass gath­er­ing of Group B cars 30 years ago, with more than 50 start­ing the fi­nal Euro­pean round of the se­ries.

The fi­nale, Amer­ica’s Olym­pus Rally, was con­tested by the two ti­tle pro­tag­o­nists: Peu­geot’s Juha Kankkunen and Markku Alen (Lan­cia). Toy­ota fielded a brace of Toy­ota Cel­i­cas for Bjorn Walde­gaard and Lars-erik Torph. Cal­lum Black gave a de­but to his new Ford Fi­esta R5+ on the Woodpecker Rally last week­end, fin­ish­ing in fifth place but with a time query.

Black claimed he’d set a time 11s quicker than he was awarded at the end of stage five, which he dou­ble checked against the in-car footage. The deficit was enough to give Shaun Gar­dener fourth over­all.

The Fi­esta also shut down at a junc­tion, cost­ing the Northamp­ton­shire driver over 15s. It was Black’s first event in a four-wheel-drive car af­ter driv­ing a Citroen DS 3 R3 pre­vi­ously.

“It’s ac­tu­ally eas­ier to drive than the DS 3,” Black added. “That was tail-happy and the Fi­esta is planted. It’s tempt­ing to get it side­ways out of the junc­tions for the cam­eras! I tried to keep it neat.

“BRC may be a bit op­ti­mistic next year but we’ll get up to speed with some BTRDA and maybe a cou­ple of na­tional Tar­mac events. I’m pleased with how it went on the whole.”

Af­ter my col­umn in MN last week, there was plenty of in­ter­est drummed up in the Group N ‘de­bate’ and where young driv­ers should ply their trade.

It was dis­cussed at length on the Ab­so­lute Rally Pod­cast be­tween Tony Sim­son, Ryan Cham­pion and I, plus peo­ple like Bri­tish Rally Cham­pi­onship fron­trun­ner Tom Cave re­acted through so­cial me­dia.

I sug­gested that Group N is the place to go to learn your craft if you want to step up and learn how to drive a four-wheel-drive car. And al­though en­tries are usu­ally low, beat­ing R5 cars over­all can do a lot for your rep­u­ta­tion. I named a few driv­ers like Wo­j­ciech Chuchala and Matt Ed­wards who’ve im­ple­mented some giant-killing acts in their re­spec­tive cham­pi­onships this year.

How­ever, af­ter some thought, I re­alised it may need some more jus­ti­fi­ca­tion. A few of the com­ments seemed to be slat­ing twowheel-drive ral­ly­ing – par­tic­u­larly R2s and R3s. That wasn’t the aim at all.

Look at Cal­lum Black. He de­buted his Ford Fi­esta R5+ at the week­end and you can read how he got on in the story on page 18.

If that’s not a con­vinc­ing de­but, I don’t know what is. Yes he had the ‘plus’ pack on his Fi­esta, but that’s less of an ad­van­tage when not com­bined with the lat­est R5 Evo pack­age, which Black doesn’t have. So fight­ing against an Evo’d Jamie An­der­son, and the larger ca­pac­ity two-litre cars of Char­lie Payne and Stephen Petch, it was quite a de­but to be trad­ing times in such com­pany. Yes there’s a way to go if he wants to chal­lenge at the front of the BRC, but his learn­ing in a front-wheel-drive Citroen DS 3 has done him no harm.

My at­ten­tion then turned to this week­end’s Gal­loway Hills Rally where the Scot­tish Rally Cham­pi­onship will be de­cided. In his first full year in a four-wheel drive, Garry Pear­son is in the prime seat, know­ing only a win for ri­val Jock Arm­strong will cost him the se­ries.

Pear­son has been bril­liant in the se­ries this year. No­body in the SRC has any sort of doubt about Arm­strong’s pace, and in the most part, Pear­son has been the quicker of the two this year topped off with a mega eighth place against the BRC boys – who could recce – on the RSAC Scot­tish.

Pear­son had no real four-wheel-drive ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore this year, but an R2 taught him fine.

Ral­ly­ing in an R2 or R3 is fine, it’s a per­fectly ac­cept­able breed­ing ground for young tal­ent. And tal­ent al­most al­ways rises to the top.

So there’s noth­ing wrong with learn­ing in an R2. In fact it’s al­most nec­ca­s­sary now. But the Evo is a great step to make – at a suit­able time – to learn the ropes of four­wheel-drive ral­ly­ing. It’s not es­sen­tial, but can be a cost-ef­fec­tive in­tro­duc­tion to all-wheel power.

Bi­a­sion drove Delta S4 dur­ing sto­ried ca­reer Bi­a­sion fa­mous for Mar­tini Lan­cia Delta out­ings

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.