GOODWOOD FESTIVAL OF SPEED
The joy of discovering icons from the past
Mark Smyth reports on some of the historic rally cars at the Goodwood Festival of Speed
There is no denying that most of the action at the famous Goodwood Festival of Speed happens at the bottom of the hill.
There are the pit paddocks full of incredible machinery, the massive manufacturer stands, the concours event and most of the stalls and attractions.
But those with a passion for rallying either take the long walk up the hill or jump on the back of a tractor-pulled trailer and head to the top of the hill. There one finds some of the most iconic pieces of rallying history ever.
Climbing off the trailer (yes, I took the lazy way up the hill but I did walk back down), I was greeted by the sight of numerous Audi rally cars, all in their Audi Motorsport livery. Audi was dominant in world and local rallying for many years. Who can forget seeing Sarel van der Merwe in the incredible Audi S1 quattro? The same vehicle conquered Group B rallying on the world stage.
Another model that appeared in Group B rallying was the Ford RS200. I remember being mesmerised as the body was raised to reveal the technology.
Ford arrived late to what was one of the best eras of world rallying with the RS200. Sadly, it was a crash involving this model in Portugal in 1986 that really put an end to Group B rallying.
Wandering the rally pits we also came across a Peugeot 205 Turbo 16. It is another icon of the Group B rally period, winning the constructors’ and drivers’ World Rally Championship (WRC) titles in 1985 and 1986 but is perhaps even more famous for flying over the dunes on the Dakar Rally.
The Peugeot was parked next to the Toyota Celica WRC in its iconic Castrol colours. That too made a name for itself on the WRC stage, particularly on events such as the Kenya Safari Rally. It was also the last in a line of Celicas over multiple generations in the hands of some of the best rally drivers of all time.
If we are talking real icons though, then how about the unique Lancia Stratos. Never before, and probably never since, has a rally car been so dramatic in its design. The company is keen to bring back the Stratos, but it is unlikely to ever appear as a rally car again, we suspect.
Unlikely rally cars were also in abundance. We spotted a Mercedes 190E and a Ferrari 308 GTB but the one that really surprised us was an Aston Martin V8 Vantage. Still, if you have the money then why not?
We spotted a number of angry Metro 6R4s and some famous stage rallying Opels as well as the classic Talbot Sunbeam, but there was one car that holds a special place in the hearts of not just rallying enthusiasts, but all motorsport enthusiasts. That car is the Subaru Impreza GT which was piloted by the former WRC champion, the late Colin McRae. It is a great tribute to his legacy to see the car still being put through its paces at events like Goodwood.
Finally, we also managed to catch up with rallying legend Rauno Aaltonen. At the age of 79, he is still taking to rally stages teaching people how to rally at his school in Finland (although the school is for sale if you are interested in moving to somewhere very cold).
He competed at Goodwood this year in a replica of the famous Mini which he drove in the Monte Carlo Rally in the 1960s and is still as passionate as ever about the sport.