WRC stars wow Goodwood

The WRC took centre stage at last weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed with stars from down the years entertaining close to 200,000 fans.

The four-day show near Britain’s south coast celebrated the 40th anniversary of the drivers’ world championship by inviting some of the sport’s biggest names to drive the famous hillclimb and rally stage.

Defending champion Sébastien Ogier was a huge hit, with fans queuing through the Sunday morning rain to meet the Frenchman. Ogier loved the event but admitted the chalk base on the forest stage made it a challenging test.

“I’m glad I’m not racing against the clock on this stage, it’s so tricky. I was using all the banks and grass to get through the corners.

“Goodwood is a fantastic event. There’s nothing like this anywhere else on the planet. The chance to come here and drive this hill and to have a lot of time with the fans and other drivers from other areas of the sport, it’s amazing,” he said.

Fellow Citroën drivers Esapekka Lappi and Mads Østberg also drove the C3 WRC.

Elfyn Evans drove all four days in M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta WRC. The Welshman was glad of the chance to keep his hand in ahead of this weekend’s Shell Helix Rally Estonia.

A selection of cars from Björn Waldegård’s inaugural drivers’ title in 1979 were lined up with the Swede’s Ford team-mate from that season, Hannu Mikkola, on hand to drive some of them.

The father and son Solberg team finished second and third in the shootout up Goodwood's famous hill

Stig Blomqvist drove one of his Audi Quattros from 1984, while Juha Kankkunen relished the chance to climb aboard the only Group B car he had never driven before – BMW’s M1.

“I have been here before,” said Kankkunen, “but this year I wanted to come with no pressure and just to drive and enjoy the car. The BMW only has 500bhp, but it’s like a go-kart. I really enjoyed myself.”

The WRC show was stolen – not for the first time – by a Solberg. Actually, not just the one. This time it was Petter and 17-year-old son Oliver in the spotlight.

Petter drove the Subaru he used to win his first ever WRC round, Wales Rally GB in 2002, while Oliver was aboard the WRX STI he drives in the American Rally Association series.

They ensured rallying was well represented in the Final Shootout up the hill, with Petter and Oliver finishing second and third behind Volkswagen Motorsport’s all-electric ID R.

Solberg Sr said: “What a fantastic event! I haven’t been here since 2008, but I definitely won’t be leaving it as long next time. Oliver and I had an incredible time, but for me the biggest thrill was to see people like [two-time Formula 1 champion] Emerson Fittipaldi and other huge heroes from motorsport coming to congratulate our son. Amazing.”

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