I’m about to send a search party out for my feet, I’ve not felt them for hours. But soon all that is forgotten as in the distance an engine revs on the start line and before I know it a 6R4 is barrelling towards me, a serious dollop of opposite lock chucked in for good measure, barely warm slicks scrabbling for grip and adding to the cacophony in a brief, frantic spurt of acceleration before it’s time to drop a gear to weave through the esses and out of sight. No, it’s not the 80s, my view wasn’t partially obscured by an ill advised perm. Welcome to the world of Group B Rallying Legends.
Audi fan Hanlon gathered fellow Group B owners
A proper bobble hat event in the best possible sense, I’ve come to Curborough Sprint Course in Staffordshire, suitably attired and ready for a trip back in time to a – the? – golden age of rallying, with the bombastic, brilliant Group Bs. It’s the brainchild of John Hanlon, the Quattro zealot who kindly indulged Dan in pairing a stickered up Audi A1
alongside one of his very special rally originals.
Here he’s brought his ex-Stig Blomqvist Quattro A2 wearing its 1983 1000 Lakes livery, along with an ex Michele Mouton/John Buffum Pikes Peak S1 Quattro, both in fine form and bringing some of the most evocative rallying history to life on a bright, chilly Saturday in February 30 years later, at the inaugural Group B Rallying Legends meeting.
All the cars attending had real rally history
Hanlon and Karol Wiechczynski founded the Group B Rallying Legends and talked about making an event of this kind happen late last year. “But it was only confirmed as possible three weeks ago, so we had a lot to do in a very short space of time,” Hanlon confides.
The group’s mission statement explains it is “dedicated to the original and true spirit of Group B rallying” and Hanlon adds that it’s about promoting and celebrating the cars, drivers and history of this era. “Group B was the most thrilling period of rallying,” he says, “and, for me, it needs to be commemorated in a similar way.” Originality is key, of that he is adamant, ensuring this is an authentic celebration, bringing stars of the era to life with a spine-tingling combination of sights, smells and sounds, an evocative, sensory explosion packed with enthusiasm and faithful to one of rallying’s greatest eras.
10 6R4s turned up to this first event
It’s a passion shared by many owners, keen to remember Group B not by watching YouTube clips and polishing their cars but by enjoying them with a healthy dose of wheelspin and tyre squeal. Today’s impressive roll call is proof of that, 10 6R4s including an ex-Colin McRae/Nicky Grist car, a Chevette HS, an Esprit S1, an ex-Bjorn Waldegard Mk2 Escort, a Rover Vitesse, a rare Nissan 240RS, an Evo spec RS200, Jimmy McRae’s Sierra Cosworth, a Ford Escort WRC and a Ferrari 308 GTB lighting up the tarmac – and sometimes kicking up the grass on either side.
Because, you’ll be pleased to hear, this wasn’t about pootling, minding the paintwork and waving to the spectators. With several trackside excursions, some wonderfully gratuitous donutting and plenty of sideways extravagance, it was a very fitting tribute to one of rallying’s most exciting, if short-lived, eras, spectators also afforded the opportunity to get close to the cars in the paddock.
Mix was eclectic, the passion universal
“We're not aware of another organisation currently catering solely for these original, important historic rally cars,” Hanlon tells us. And if you like the sound of it, he promises there’s more to come. “It’s been amazing to witness 21 genuine rally cars in one place for our debut. We hope to prove that it's possible to regularly assemble a strong number of these rare original cars. We want to present them correctly, whilst allowing the spectators and drivers to have fun in safety.”
See the Group B Rallying Legends Facebook page for more.
PH caught up with some of the owners to find out how their day went – click the link below the thumbnail for their respective stories.