Former world champion Ari Vatanen will be honoured with ‘Rally Legend’ status at next month’s Wales Rally GB, the concluding round of the World Rally Championship (13-16 November).
‘Rally Legend’ is a new annual honour being introduced by the organisers of Wales Rally GB to celebrate the outstanding achievements of a past hero.
Vatanen won the UK’s round of the WRC exactly 30 years ago in 1984 in a Group B Peugeot 205 T16, and he will be in attendance throughout this year’s rally to show his support for what he considers to be a second home event.
“It goes without saying that it is a great honour to be the first person selected as Wales Rally GB's 'Rally Legend',” admitted the 62-year-old Finn, who took the title in 1981.
“It proves the links I have with this event and this country are reciprocal. I have always had a very good relationship with the British people and the British fans. They made me feel at home and I hope I put on a good show for them. I have always been well received here and I am really looking forward to coming again in November.”
Vatanen will be present at both the start and finish ceremonies, and will be meeting fans at the Sweet Lamb stage on Friday and both Chirk Castle and Kinmel Park RallyFests over the weekend. Fans will also be able to meet him at the Service Park in Deeside.
Wales Rally GB managing director Ben Taylor said he was thrilled that Ari has agreed to be celebrated in this special way: “Wales Rally GB is known as the ‘Rally of Legends’ and I can't think of a better example of legendary status than Ari to be the first past champion to enter what is going to become our very own ‘hall of fame’,” he enthused.
“What’s more the timing is perfect as it’s exactly 30 years since that terrific WRC victory here in the UK. I am sure that new and old fans will be delighted to catch up with him during what's going to be a fabulous event.”