Former World Rally Champion Hannu Mikkola and long time co-driver Arne Hertz are the latest stars to sign-up for next month’s McRae Rally Challenge. They won’t be alone. Sharing the spotlight will be a number of rare and exotic Audi quattro rally cars, the Group B machines that changed the sport in the 1980s for ever.
The ‘Flying Finns’ will be in attendance ‘with the four-wheel-drive ‘supercars’ that are part of the demonstrations and displays at the McRae Rally Challenge, supported by Beatsons’ Building Supplies and EventScotland, a special two-day rally event celebrating the 20th anniversary of Colin McRae’s World Rally Championship win.
Mikkola was active in international rallying between 1972-93 and two years after joining Audi, won the 1983 Driver’s World title achieving four wins and three second places in the revolutionary Audi quattro with Hertz.
Mikkola was always a great favourite with the Scottish crowds, especially in the days when the week long annual RSAC Scottish Rally visited all points of the Scottish compass. Competitors trekked all across the country from the Great Glen forests in the north to Glentrool in the south, and from Drumtochty in the east to Knapdale in the west. In those days, the rally was as much a test of stamina and mechanical endurance, as skill and speed.
He first won the Scottish Rally in 1972, then again in 1978 and finally in 1980 in a Ford Escort Mk2, but it was his exploits in the four wheel drive turbocharged Audi quattro that sealed his popularity with some fervent Scottish fans changing his name to ‘McKkola’. He won the Scottish Rally a further twice in 1982 and 1984 in an Audi quattro – with Sweden’s Stig Blomqvist ruining his hat-trick in 1983 also at the wheel of an Audi Quattro!
Hannu commented: “It’s always nice to get back behind the wheel of an Audi quattro rally car and never fails to bring back special memories for me. Scotland has always been a favourite place of mine to rally in the UK, and I have been fortunate enough to do really well there too. It’s also great to support this event and celebrate a fantastic achievement in British motorsports and remember what Colin accomplished in the sport.”
Mikkola won the 1981 and ’82 RAC Rallies, that also swept through Scotland, and claimed victory, with Phil Short, on the 1982 Scottish International Rally in an Audi A2 quattro. He missed out on the ‘world’ crown to fellow Audi driver Stig Blomqvist that year – the Swede also claiming the British Open Championship title in 1983.
Various derivatives of the Audi quattro were also victorious in Scotland in the hands of Blomqvist (1983), Malcolm Wilson (1985) and David Llewellin (1987).
The original Audi quattro rally car debuted in 1980 while the Audi Sport quattro S1 E2 that Mikkola drives at the Colin McRae Anniversary event was rallied in 1985. Between 1981-85, quattros won 23 WRC events and netted two WRC Manufacturers’ titles (1982/84).
Members of Lanarkshire based Coltness Car Club, who will be organising the competitive element of the McRae Rally Challenge, paid another of their regular visits to Knockhill last week – in the snow!
They met with the circuit’s Stuart Gray to discuss the final lay-out of the proposed 10 Special Stages which will be run over Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
The proposed lay-out will comprise a modified route using the high speed tarmac race track along with a more twisting and challenging ‘off-track course’.
With 45 cars starting at 30 second intervals this will ensure plenty of thrills and high speed on-stage action, but amongst the stars will be a category for Juniors. A dozen entries have been included for 14 – 17 year old up and coming rally drivers.
The sport introduced this new category five years ago to provide youngsters with a cost effective and strictly controlled entry into the sport. They will be competing in a variety of 1 litre cars on the same stage as the likes of Alister McRae, Kris Meeke, and now Hannu Mikkola.
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Hanu Mikkola and Arne Hertz pictured at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last year with an Audi quattro Sport.
Members of Coltness Car Club with Stuart Gray surveying the proposed rally route.
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For more information about this event, please contact Stuart Gray at: email@example.com
Tel: 01383 723337.
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Ref: KPR12, 19 April 2015
Knockhill, Scotland’s National Motor Sport Centre, is delighted to announce the creation of a special rally festival event on May 16/17th 2015 to mark the 20th anniversary of the late, great Colin McRae winning the World Rally Championship in 1995.
Knockhill has long been the venue for rally action, previously hosting stages of the Scottish Rally, the UK Rally Challenge and currently hosts the opening round of the Scottish Tarmac Rally Championship every year. This new event will be a multi-discipline, multi-action rally festival, not only celebrating the achievements of Colin, but the world of rallying, both old and new.
The sporting element of this unique event will feature an invitational competitive rally for three classes, bringing together current competitors in their latest machinery. These will include competitors in classic rally cars and the next breed of rally stars. The Brick and Steel Junior Rally Championship will feature at this event allowing our future young stars to showcase their potential.
The event will use a combination of tracks within the Knockhill venue including the famous racing circuit, the Knockhill rally stage and abundance of perimeter roads, all providing an exciting and challenging single venue rally format for the drivers and crews.
Organisers are working with the McRae family and an impressive display of Colin’s cars will not only take centre stage on display at the event, but will be driven on stage too.
Knockhill Events Director, Stuart Gray, said: “We are proud and privileged to be working with the McRae family to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Colin’s world title. He competed here so many times in rally events, raced here in the British Touring Car Championship and a Porsche Carrera Cup car; he tested here often and came for some fun too. We knew him very well and think that this tribute event will be something special for the thousands of Colin’s fans and rallying fans across the UK and beyond. We will be announcing details of the event soon, but the weekend of May 16/17th at Knockhill will be one for all rally and McRae fans to put in their diaries now.”
Jimmy McRae, Colin’s father said: “We are pleased to be working with Knockhill and their working group to put together this special event to mark Colin’s 20th anniversary. It seems only like yesterday that we all shared in his success and believe that this event will relive his achievements and showcase rallying in Scotland at a great venue. I have competed recently at Knockhill and know it is a real test for the crews and all the show elements off track will be a real treat for rally fans too.”
More information will be released over the coming weeks as to the event format, timings and costs to enter, and for Clubs and Trade stands to become involved too. Details will be on the Knockhill website www.knockhill.co.uk soon with more content being added during the coming months.
Stuart Gray added: “We believe this will not only be a special event for Colin’s 20th anniversary, but will also be a showcase event for all of rally sport in the UK. With the unique amphitheatre nature of Knockhill and the stage miles available, we hope it will become an annual event, bringing top class rallying to the people, and off track entertainment and enjoyment too with different themes and content each year.”
Pictures attached of Colin McRae from Rally GB in 1995 (courtesy of Mark Writtle – www.writtlephotographic.co.uk).
With just over six weeks to go to the 40th anniversary celebrations at the Homecoming Scotland-backed Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship meeting at Knockhill Racing Circuit, Scotland’s National Motor Sport Centre, in addition to the amazing event on August 23/24, which will feature four Scottish-based drivers, there are two very special additions to mark the year.
Jim Clark 50th Anniversary Forth Road Bridge Parade – Thursday 21st August at 11am
It’s the 50th anniversary of Jim Clark winning the BTCC title with Jim, John Cleland and Gordon Shedden being the only Scots to have won the title. To celebrate this, and the 50th anniversary of the Forth Road Bridge, Knockhill are working with the organisers of the Forth Bridge Festival (www.forthbridgesfestival.com) which will see a parade of six of Jim Clark’s cars and four modern day BTCC cars across the Bridge at 11am.
From 9.30am, the Jim Clark cars will be on show in the South car park together with the actual race cars of Gordon Shedden (Honda), Glynn Geddie (Toyota), Aiden Moffat (Chevrolet) and Dave Newsham (Ford) which will all be part of the parade at 11am. Members of the press and public are all invited, and the organisers have procured permission to get a photographer to the top of one of the bridge towers and to fly two drone helicopters to capture video and stills from the air too.
There will be two of Jim Clark’s single seaters, two Lotus Cortinas and two other early Jim Clark cars, all of which will then go to Knockhill and be paraded on both Saturday and Sunday of the BTCC meeting during the lunch breaks. Knockhill is working closely with the Jim Clark Trust to make this happen as the circuit is donating 20% of all sales (using the code JIMCLARK50 via advance online bookings) to the development of the Jim Clark Room in Duns.
In a special commemoration, the crossing has been recognised as the first event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Forth Road Bridge itself, one of 11 special events over the subsequent month, culminating in a massive firework display.
Homecoming Scotland 2014 Knockhill 40th Anniversary Marquee
Knockhill are inviting back racers and their cars that have featured over the 40 years of racing at the Fife track through the help and backing of Homecoming Scotland 2014. The Homecoming-branded marquee will be 50 metres long, with 10 metres dedicated to each of the four decades of Knockhill’s heritage and the final 10 metres set aside for the six Jim Clark cars.
The display will be a tremendous throwback through time as each section will be customised to the relevant period with pictures and display panels from each decade, as well as playing archive footage on large screens within the marquee.
It all adds up to a very special event, all kicking off at the Forth Road Bridge on Thursday 21st August and culminating with the usual three spectacular Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races on Sunday 24th August.
The Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki duo of Shane Byrne and Stuart Easton head for Scotland and round four of the 2014 MCE British Superbike Championship in confident mood this weekend as the action takes place at Knockhill.
Triple MCE BSB champion Byrne leads the standings by a comfortable 45 points following five wins and a second place in the opening six races and importantly, has racked up an impressive 28 Podium Credits which will become significant when the end of season Showdown to decide the MCE British champion commences.
The 37-year-old Londoner won both races at the Fife track last year to take his winning tally to seven at the hillside circuit just north of Dunfermline and following his double at Snetterton a couple of weeks ago, he increased his total of MCE BSB wins to a record breaking 56.
Team-mate Stuart Easton arrives at his local track knowing the partisan fans will be cheering for the 30-year-old Hawick rider as he looks to bounce back after a disappointing Snetterton which saw him scrape just three points.
The reigning Motorpoint British Supersport champion holds seventh place in the standings and has yet to win on home soil but aims to put that record right aboard the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R for the Penrith-based PBM team.
Shane Byrne: “It’s very early days in the season and there’s a long way to go so the plan at Knockhill is to just keep doing what we’re doing. I have a really good feeling with the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki right now and last year we had two good wins at Knockhill so the aim is obviously to do the same again. But I know that’s not going to be easy and I’m expecting a lot more pressure as it’s a tight and twisty track but the aim is two more wins.”
Stuart Easton: “I’ve finished second at Knockhill in every class in which I have raced but I have never been first and that is something that I am keen to put right this weekend. Racing there is always something that I look forward to as it is only a short trip from home; I get good support there and enjoy riding at Knockhill. I only get to race the track once a year and that has been the same all the way through my career so it is always very important for me to do well there. I’m only four points adrift of fifth place in the title race so after a disappointing round at Snetterton, I’ll be looking to put a smile back on my side of the garage.”
Paul Bird: “There is no pressure at all on either Shakey or Stuart from the team, they will do what they always do and go out and give it their best shot. Hopefully Shakey can keep those Podium Credits rolling in as that’s the important thing right now and it’s great that Scotland has a Superbike rider this year where I’m sure Stuart will want to put on a good show at his home round.”
The Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki MCE British Superbike Championship Team is running alongside the PBM MotoGP Team with riders Michael Laverty and Broc Parkes. Additionally, Paul Bird is running a full campaign in the REIS BTRDA Rally Series as well as selected International events in his Ford Focus WRC07. Both bike racing teams are sporting the colours of British Racing Green in deference to the team’s proud British heritage.
Pictures attached (courtesy of Jon Jessop Photograph) Shane Byrne (67) and Stuart Easton (5) will be looking for more success at Knockhill this weekend.
2014 marks the 40th anniversary of Knockhill Racing Circuit, Scotland’s National Motor Sport Centre and to mark the occasion, there is a lot happening at the Fife track in recognition.
Next weekend (June 27/29), the circuit will host round four of the prestigious MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship and on Thursday 26th June, the Queen’s Baton Relay will visit Knockhill in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games.
Currently, Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne leads the series but he is expecting stiff opposition from the likes of Josh Brookes, James Ellison, Tommy Bridewell, Ryuichi Kiyonari and Chris Walker. Scottish hopes lay with Hawick’s Stuart Easton who in back on a Superbike and looking to break his Knockhill duck.
It’s all part of a fantastic summer of sport in Scotland which will include the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship visiting Knockhill on August 23/24 which will see local hero Gordon Shedden gunning for victory in front of a partisan crowd.
At the forthcoming MCE BSB meeting, there will be a special 40 years of Bikesport at Knockhill celebration in the Homecoming Scotland 2014 marquee, with special exhibits from each of the four decades at Knockhill including the late Jock Taylor’s World Championship winning outfit. There will be a special Tribute Room with many of Jock’s trophies and other memorabilia on display in the Champion’s Clubhouse too.
Events Director Stuart Gray said: “We always strive to bring the best of motorsport to Knockhill and this year we are again hosting some of the best racing in the UK on two, three and four wheels. The highlights of the BSB and BTCC will be especially significant as the four decades of racing at Knockhill will be celebrated in style with the help and assistance from Homecoming Scotland.”
Jillian Shedden To Carry The Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay
Knockhill Racing Circuit – Thursday 26th June – 7.30am
After travelling across the world to almost every Commonwealth country on the planet, the Queen’s Baton is returning to Scotland and visiting Fife on Thursday 26th June.
Knockhill Racing Circuit has been chosen as the first stop for the Baton and uniquely will be carried on the back of a Superbike by Knockhill MD Jillian Shedden. The lap of honour will be a family affair as the bike will be ridden by her father, and circuit owner of 30 years Derek Butcher with Jillian as a pillion. The bike will be escorted by four bikes, one from each of the four decades that Knockhill existed as the Fife Circuit is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
The lap precedes the Homecoming Scotland 2014 MCE British Superbike event on the 27/29 June where upwards of 15,000 bike fans are expected to descend on Knockhill.
Jillian Shedden said: “We are honoured at Knockhill to be chosen as the first Fife venue for the visit of the Queen’s Baton and I am delighted to be chosen too, as I follow in a long line of people around the world who have held the Baton. It is a special 40th anniversary year for Knockhill and this is a fitting event within a memorable year for us. We wish Glasgow and everyone competing at the Commonwealth Games the best of luck and thank the organisers for choosing Knockhill for the Baton to do such a historic lap of the track.”
The lap of Knockhill will happen between 7.30am before it leaves at 7.50am and The Provost of Fife, Jim Leishman will welcome the Baton and Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport Shona Robison will be on hand to flag off Derek and Jillian on their historic lap of Knockhill.
McClung Lands Dream Ducati Ride At Knockhill BSB
Paul McClung, one of the rising stars of Scottish bike racing has earned a dream opportunity to race in the Ducati TriOptions Cup at the Knockhill round of the MCE British Superbike Championship, when the prestigious series comes to Scotland from 27-29 June.
The 18-year-old from Haddington has impressed in every class he has raced in since his debut season in 2009. McClung can also boast a number of Scottish titles to his name, having won Scottish Championships at F125, Mini Twin and Superstock 600 levels.
Niall Mackenzie, Knockhill Motor Sports Club President and Ducati TriOptions Ambassador, had no hesitation in nominating McClung for the ‘Guest’ Ducati ride, having seen first-hand some outstanding performances from the youngster during race events at Knockhill.
Niall said: “Paul certainly has all the right traits to be a successful bike racer. Year on year he has improved his pace and fine tuned his race craft to a level which l felt warranted a ride on the Ducati at his home round. I know he’ll enjoy riding the 899 Panigale and he will also gain some valuable experience in a field of high quality riders.”
Alongside his Ducati Tri Options Cup ride, McClung has also entered the Pirelli National Superstock 600 race at Knockhill. A busy schedule will see him take to the track 11 times over the course of the weekend; with practice, qualifying and three races to compete in. McClung has previous British Championship racing experience at the Fife track, having raced in the Superstock 600 class back in 2013, qualifying 12th out of 50 riders and running as high as sixth place before mechanical issues forced him to retire.
Paul said: “I’m really looking forward to the event, and more so now that l will also be riding in the Ducati TriOptions Cup. It’s a real honour for me to be nominated by Niall and hopefully l can repay that faith with some solid results at Knockhill.”
Mackenzie added: “In my role as KMSC President, l’ve seen the progress Paul has made over the past five years. As a Club, the KMSC are always looking at ways to support up and coming young talent and l’m delighted that l was able to help Paul with this opportunity. Having a Scottish rider in the high profile Ducati TriOptions Cup will be a great addition to the Knockhill BSB weekend so I hope Paul has two successful races.”
Alongside the Ducati TriOptions Cup and Pirelli National Superstock 600 races, the bike racing event will also welcome five other racing championships to the Fife venue. Topping the bill however, will be the MCE British Superbike Championship, arguably the best domestic bike racing series in the World.
Tickets for the event can be booked online via the Knockhill website www.knockhill.com, or by calling 01383 723337. On the day tickets will also be available at the gate throughout the weekend (27/28/29 June).
If you wish to attend the Queen’s Baton Relay, please respond to Tracey Joesbury on firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday 24th June or phone 01383 723337. Please also note the timing of the photo opportunity will be around 7.40am as it will be leaving Knockhill at 7.50am on its tour of Fife