NEWS

Leg­endary rally moves up to an­other level with the wel­come re­turn of RAC sup­port

Octane - - CONTENTS - Words David Lil­ly­white

The leg­endary RAC Rally: it’s back!

The fa­mous RaC Rally is back, in the form of an his­toric event that unites the RAC and the Royal Au­to­mo­bile Club with HERO’s es­tab­lished Rally of the Tests, to recre­ate the glory days of one of the world’s most im­por­tant ral­lies. The new event is set to take place in the UK on 3-6 Novem­ber 2016.

The orig­i­nal RAC Rally ran from 1932 un­til 1939, re­turn­ing af­ter the war in 1951 as The RAC Rally of the Tests, at­tract­ing huge crowds and top-level teams. In 1960 the or­gan­is­ers in­cluded a three-mile for­est stage for the first time, and it proved such a suc­cess that from 1961 the event be­came the RAC Rally of the Forests, es­tab­lish­ing the tem­plate for UK stage ral­ly­ing for decades to come. That 1961 event was won by Erik Carls­son in a Saab 96, nav­i­gated by John Brown, who later founded HERO.

From 1970 the event went through sev­eral name changes, in­clud­ing the Daily Mir­ror RAC, the Lombard RAC and the Net­work Q RAC, be­fore the RAC ceased its re­la­tion­ship with the event af­ter 1997, the year in which Colin McRae fa­mously took his third win. It now ex­ists as the Wales Rally of Great Bri­tain.

The Rally of the Tests name was re­vived in 2000 by his­toric rally pi­o­neer Philip Young. It’s been an an­nual event ever since, but the new tie-in with the RAC mo­tor­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion and the Royal Au­to­mo­bile Club moves it on an­other step.

‘We’re de­lighted to get in­volved again and to recog­nise our her­itage,’ ex­plained John Og­gis, head of mar­ket­ing at the RAC. ‘We’ve made a long-term com­mit­ment to this, and we want to bring it to a new gen­er­a­tion. We’ve signed up for three years but we ex­pect it to go much fur­ther.’

Fur­ther­more, Ben Cus­sons of the Royal Au­to­mo­bile Club (a sep­a­rate en­tity from the RAC, al­though his­tor­i­cally linked) said: ‘The RAC Rally was one of those itches that we al­ways wanted to scratch. It was one of the world’s top three events, up there with the Mille Miglia and the Monte Carlo.’

The new RAC Rally of the Tests will start in Bournemouth, a nod to early RAC Rally lo­ca­tions, head­ing to Bris­tol via spe­cial stages and night-time sec­tions on the first day. On day two, com­peti­tors will leave the RAC build­ing in Bris­tol and head north to Stoke-on-Trent, via the in­fa­mous Swyn­ner­ton Min­istry of De­fence stages, and on day three the event will head to the fin­ish at Ch­ester – an­other nod to pre­vi­ous RACs.

Ever since its re­vival in 2000, the Rally of the Tests has been aimed at pre-1962 cars, but some pre-81 cars will be al­lowed into the 2016 event, with­out be­ing el­i­gi­ble for the over­all prize. En­tries are now open, start­ing at £2646 for a two-per­son crew. More de­tails on www.heroevents.eu.

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