DirtFish and Rallyday combined to deliver an unforgettable trip down the twisting and turning memory lanes of the World Rally Championship at Castle Combe, Wiltshire, England on Saturday.
English-born owner of Seattle-based Rally School DirtFish, Steve Rimmer, was delighted to attend the event alongside 15,000 fellow fans.
Bathed in early autumn sunshine, some of world rallying’s finest machinery delivered an unparalleled history lesson at Rallyday.
Former British Rally Champion Gwyndaf Evans was a star attraction and a rally fan on the day.
“What a day!” he said. “Honestly, it’s been a real privilege to come here and see Rallyday. It’s fantastic. It’s great to watch and see some of the sport’s finest cars, but, for me, it became a day and a memory I will treasure forever.
“When I was invited to the day, I got a call from Ian Gwynne at BGMsport. Ian told me to put my kit in the boot, just in case. When I arrived, he asked me if I fancied driving any of the cars on display. I couldn’t believe it.
“Which one? It had to be the master’s car, didn’t it… Colin McRae’s Ford Focus. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed driving it and what an honour it was. I want to say a very big thank you to everybody who worked to organise Rallyday, but also to Ian [Gwynne] and, of course, to Steve [Rimmer] for letting me drive his car.”
Gwyndaf will be back. And he’s hoping he won’t be the only driver from the Evans household to make the trip.
He added: “Elfyn was supposed to be coming to Rallyday as well this year, but he had a commitment with the [Toyota Gazoo Racing] team at the last minute. From my side, the date for next year’s Rallyday will go straight into the diary – and I’m sure it’ll be the same for Elfyn.”
Gwyndaf was also reunited with his former co-driver Howard Davies, the pair of them enthralling the crowd with stories from their time together.
They weren’t the only Welshmen making the journey: triple British Rally Champion Matt Edwards drove Nicky Grist’s Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD on the Legend Stages.
Talking about the DirtFish alliance with Rallyday, Steve said: “Rallyday has always been a big deal in British rallying, but in the absence of a WRC round, it takes on even greater significance.
“Talking to Ian [Gwynne] a few months ago, he mentioned Rallyday was looking for a new sponsor and asked if I’d be interested. DirtFish Rally School is about teaching this great sport of ours at all levels. As well as that, we’re about supporting and promoting rallying. Rallyday was a great fit.
“And on top of that, it gives me a really good excuse to come home and sit alongside some of the best drivers in the world in cars I grew up watching on the RAC Rally!
“Talking of those cars and drivers, it’s my turn to express my gratitude to Ian and all the team at BGMsport for their incredible work on both the event and the cars. Once again, they were second-to-none.
“As always, I want to thank Ryan [Champion] for driving. We were fortunate to have Ryan with us at Goodwood and it was great to see him back for Rallyday. And, of course, thanks to Gwyndaf [Evans], Jess [Gwynne], Steve [Hendy], David [Higgins], Paul [Howarth] and Ian himself for driving as well.
“I was lucky to get the last run of the day with David [Higgins]. Sitting alongside a 10-time American Rally Champion in a sideways, ex-Colin McRae Ford Focus RS WRC? Yeah, that was probably the moment of the day for me. Thank you David – I got out of the car with a very big smile on my face!”
Castle Combe managing director Graham Marshallsay was similarly pleased with the event and partnership.
Graham added: “It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with Steve and Ian and the DirtFish and BGMsport teams. Together, we’ve managed to put on an amazing day which has taken fans on a journey through the greatest eras of the sport of rallying.
“That journey has gone from the Volvo Amazon all the way through to World Rally Cars. It’s been amazing. We introduced the Legend Stage a few years ago. This was an opportunity for the best of the best metal to be seen on a stage which utilised both the track and roads through the paddock.
“This year, former World Rally Championship star co-driver Dave Whittock came up with the idea of running two stages simultaneously. Dave and his team delivered that brilliantly and to the absolute delight of huge crowds right around the circuit. Thanks to them and to all the volunteers who gave up their time to help us on the day.
“It’s just a matter of hours since we closed Rallyday 2022, but we’re already looking forward to next year – when we’ll have more stars, cars and innovation.”