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Motorsport UK exploring new UK rally festival

Motorsport UK is assessing the idea of a new rally festival event to help reenergise the discipline and increase fan engagement in the United Kingdom.

Lancia Group B rally car

Motorsport UK met with stakeholders in November last year to devise a new strategy to help grow rallying in the UK and promote the discipline to both existing and new audiences. The introduction of a rally festival to showcase the discipline was tabled by by M-Sport-Ford World Rally Championship team principal Richard Millener.

While the concept is in its infancy, the idea is to bring rallying to the public through a showcase of historic and modern vehicles, featuring the current WRC Rally1 cars, and including a competitive stage rally element - held in either an urban environment on closed roads or at a bespoke venue.

“I think it is unrealistic for the public to come to you so you have to take the sport to them,” Motorsport UK CEO Hugh Chambers told Autosport.

“The beauty of it is that if you get a Chatsworth House and its grounds you can put on a wonderful display of Group B rally cars, modern machinery and get some Rally1s there, and some manufacturer involvement, and really have a rally festival a bit like the Chris Evans Car Fest. That is something we are looking at.

“I think we have got to get the population excited about rallying again and find new ways fo doing that.”

The idea isn’t an entirely new prospect and one that follows in the footsteps of the Rallyday event that has proved successful at Castle Combe, while Chatsworth House, a former RAC Rally venue, used to host the Chatsworth Rally Show from 2008-2010.

Group B rally cars, including a Lancia Delta S4, Audi Quattro Sport, Audi Quattro and MG Metro 6R4

Group B rally cars, including a Lancia Delta S4, Audi Quattro Sport, Audi Quattro and MG Metro 6R4

Photo by: Goodwood Media

Millener believes a new dedicated rally festival that takes rallying to the public is important help boost growth in the country and could be used as a tool to showcase the category to local councils and the UK government.

“I think we have to be very open and able to critique ourselves, and the facts and the numbers aren’t good, rallying isn’t growing, and if it is it is marginal and certainly not at the rate it should be,” Millener told Autosport.

“Rallying is still one of the most exciting sports that creates fantastic footage and we need to bring it to the people.

“We need find a host town or city that is forward thinking and get people into the area. It is about parents bringing their sons and daughters to a day out which is rally themed and we hope they can become rally fans off the back of it.

"The passion and interest is still out but we are not doing it, lets’s be a country to showcase motorsport again and show what good it brings. We can then use this momentum to invite councils and people from parliament to see how much interest there is.

“I would like to see something with a venue where you can see a lot and it is good action, with a couple of jumps that are safe and fast corners where they can drift. We could make it so it is a tarmac rally with gravel set up on the cars so they are interesting and have historic cars and modern cars.

“I’m open to helping with ideas and put my own personal time into it and work to try and get things going. First of all we need a plan and get things moving.”

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