Flying Finns to appear at 2017 Race Retro, and will be driving on the live rally stage.
It’s one thing to put on a classic motor show, it’s quite another to host a live rally stage. But at this year’s Race Retro at Stoneleigh Park, some of the world’s greatest rally stars will be reunited with some of rallying’s beastliest Group B machines.
Among them are Finnish rally maestros Ari Vatanen and Markku Alén, who will get back behind the wheel at Race Retro’s bespoke Live Rally Stage.
Acting Show Director Lee Masters said: ‘Vatanen and Alén are larger than life characters who are guaranteed to delight the crowds. To have them with us at the show is one thing but to have them in action, driving these amazing Group B cars on our Rally Stage is something you won’t see anywhere else. We are thrilled to have them as part of our 15th Super Show.’
Vatanen, who won the British Championship in 1976 and by 1977, was a regular competitor in the World Rally Championship at the wheel of a Ford Escort RS1800. Signed to the Rothmans Ford team in 1979, Vatanen and new co-driver David Richards took their first WRC win at the 1980 Acropolis.
Vatanen then joined Peugeot after winning the WRC, and was on course to win the 1985 World Championship but a serious accident in Argentina ended his season and nearly his life.SEE RELATED: Best classic car shows in 2017
But that didn’t defeat the fearsome Finn. In fact, he went on to crown his curriculum vitae with even more staggering achievements. These included winning four Paris-Dakar Rallies in 1987, 1989, ‘90 and ‘91, as well as smashing the record for the Pikes Peak Hill climb in a 600bhp Peugeot 405 T16 in 1988.
Vatanen said: ‘I am very much looking forward to joining Race Retro and seeing all the rally fans over the weekend. To get to drive these fantastic cars again is an honour and I can’t wait!’.
Fellow rally hero Alén, however, never won an WRC but was regarded as one of the sport’s best drivers, holding the record for the most stage wins at 801 (until it was beaten by Sébastien Loeb in 2011).
Alén said: ‘I am delighted to be invited to this great event and look forward to driving on the Rally Stage with my old friend Ari”. It will be a great weekend and I look forward to meeting fellow enthusiasts.’
The Live Rally Stage will be in action on Saturday and Sunday with around 70-80 Group B and C cars taking to the stage. Race Retro takes place from the 24 to 26 February 2017 at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, with free parking and a free show guide for all visitors.