Carlisle: British Rally stars gather at Chatsworth

British and World Rally Champions Stig Blomqvist and Ari Vatanen will join other BRC stars and Champions to celebrate the British Rally Championship's 50th anniversary at the Rally Show, Chatsworth in early June. Marcus Gronholm, who will...

British and World Rally Champions Stig Blomqvist and Ari Vatanen will join other BRC stars and Champions to celebrate the British Rally Championship's 50th anniversary at the Rally Show, Chatsworth in early June.

Marcus Gronholm, who will also be present, may never have won the British series, but it is testament to its success that five other World Rally Champions first took victory on Britain's premier domestic Championship.

The theme for the weekend of 7th & 8th of June is the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the BRC and 2008's Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship contenders will also be there in force to contest four rallies on the Chatsworth stages.

The Rally Show at Chatsworth's History of Rallying demonstration features examples, some of them the actual cars, of the rally cars that won the BRC during its fifty-year history. These range from an ex-works Triumph TR3a and John Sprinzel's original Austin Healey Sprite, through VW's (including one of Bill Bengry's original Beetles), Lotus Cortina, Mini Cooper, Triumph 2000, Hillman Imp, Escort Twin Cam and RS1800, Vauxhall Chevette, Opels, Audis, Hyundai WRC and the current Mitsubishi Evo.

The celebration of the BRC's birthday also means that many of the winning drivers and co-drivers from down the years will also be at Chatsworth on that June weekend. Among the drivers are names like Eric Jackson, Roy Fidler, John Bloxham, Will Sparrow, Chris Sclater, Billy Coleman, Russell Brookes, Pentti Airikkala, Jimmy McRae, David Llewellin, Gwyndaf Evans, Mark Higgins, Martin Rowe, Marko Ipatti, Jonny Milner, David Higgins and of course the reigning champion Guy Wilks.

One name missing from that list, but who will be there, is Malcolm Wilson, who is not only attending the Show but bringing a Focus WRC from M-Sport for Marcus Gronholm to drive. Among the co-drivers hoping to attend are Brian Melia, Alan Taylor, Don Barrow, John Brown, Ian Grindrod, Mike Nicholson, Mike Broad, Phil Short, Robert Reid, and Phil Mills.

Champion co-drivers Stuart Turner and David Richards, who both went on to be highly successful rally team managers, will also be at Chatsworth. Indeed they will able to celebrate more than just their success in the BRC since Chatsworth is paying homage during the weekend to the fortieth anniversary of the Ford Escort's debut in rallying back on the San Remo Rally in 1968.

Turner was the man behind the phenomenal success of the BMC Mini Coopers in the 1960s and was then at the helm of Ford Competitions during the even more amazing achievements of the Escort including its East African Safari victory in 1972 and complete dominance of the British rally scene. The actual car that won the Safari will be at Chatsworth.

For Richards too, the Escort was an iconic car as, sitting alongside Vatanen, he won first the BRC and then the World Championship titles before going on to mastermind Subaru's three WRC Manufacturer titles in the mid-1990s as well as Colin McRae's and Richard Burn's drivers titles in 1995 and 2001 respectively.

There is still some room in all nine rally events -- they range from Historic through Post-Historic to modern-day World Rally cars and of course the classes comprising the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship -- for competitors to get entries in the next three weeks and benefit from the cheap additional ticket deal for competitors. After that, it will be difficult and certainly more expensive.

The same applies to drivers who want to enter their rally-type cars in the popular stage sessions. Entry forms, regulations and applications for additional tickets can all be found on the Show web site.

The attractions out on the two tarmac stages -- different for Saturday and Sunday -- include no fewer than nine competitive rallies, the History of Rallying demonstrations, displays by stunt innovator Terry Grant, exhibitions by various exotic rally machinery and several stage sessions open to privately owned cars. The quantity and quality of the cars in action as well as all the trade and club stands plus the fact that the June date provides longer daylight hours, means that the Rally Show at Chatsworth 2008 will be superb value for the enthusiastic rally fan and his family. Indeed, the Saturday has been designated a Family Day with accompanied children admitted free of charge and with additional attractions for the young.

The whole weekend should be equally attractive to enthusiasts and to those who are coming to the sport for the first time. Tickets, including those for the BRC party on Saturday night, can be bought now by booking via the show website at


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Series BRC
Drivers Colin McRae , Mark Higgins , Marcus Gronholm , Robert Reid , Martin Rowe , Guy Wilks , Ari Vatanen , David Higgins , Gwyndaf Evans , Stig Blomqvist , David Richards , Terry Grant , Russell Brookes , Jimmy McRae , Alan Taylor
Teams M-Sport