Rallysprint

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FOR the past few years a handful of top Formula One and rally drivers have come together or an informal Rallysprint meeting at Donington Park, the purpose of which has been to provide an entertaining contest on track and special stage which, in theory, provides a balanced challenge for the two groups’ differing skills. Organised by enthusiastic entrepreneur Nick Brittain, the two day Donington meeting was again televised this year, but provided the additional attraction of an entirely separate contest, “Speedstar ’82”. This television-tailored event (which will be transmitted at New Year) not only incorporated the special stage and circuit race format of the main Rallysprint event, but added such challenges as a pedal bike race, a driving test and motorcycle trial in addition. At the end of the day it was Tony Pond who emerged victor of the Rallysprint event, the rally fraternity convincingly trouncing the Fl stars on this occasion, while former Williams driver Derek Daly took the Speedstar ’82 title by dint of taking maximum points in the circuit race (using MG Metros), second place in the driving test (using the same, by-now weary, machines) and second place on the rally stage at the wheel of the Chequered Flag’s delectable Lancia Stratos.

Originally it was intended that the Stratos would be shared by Pentti Airikkala and World champion Keke Rosberg, but the squat coupe died at the water splash and the two men eventually transferred to do battle with a Sunbeam Lotus. Too late, it was found that the real reason behind Rosberg’s retirement was that he’d inadvertently knocked off the fuel pump as he switched on the windscreen wiper as he emerged from the water!

Stig Blomqvist initially set the pace in the Talbot Lotus, managing a 2 min. 6.8 sec. despite a near spin, but Airikkala later took over the same car and put his superiority beyond dispute with a 2 min. 4.3 sec. run which stood up as fastest for the rest of the day. Tony Pond, driving the Andrews Heat for Hire Chevette, got in amongst his Scandinavian rivals with a 2 min. 5.5 sec., while the fastest Fl driver turned out to be Rosberg on 2 min. 9.2 sec. with Derek Daly on 2 min. 11.3 sec., Mansell on 2 min. 12 sec. and John Watson on 2 min. 12.6 sec. with the Andrews Chevette rallied usually by Russell Brookes.

After the Rally Stage the first driving test was held, for Rallysprint points, in which the competitors used a selection of Triumph Acclaims provided by the event’s sponsor. Unfortunately there was some dissatisfaction over the effectiveness of the Acclaim’s handbrake in these somewhat extreme circumstances and the competitors used the MG Metros for the second driving test on Sunday. Saturday’s proceedings continued with a circuit race using these Metros, a contest which wound up resolved in Blomqvists favour after a stern battle with Rosberg. Pond came home third to clinch the Rallysprint victory while Daly was fourth ahead of Kaby, Airikkala and Watson, the McLaren driver hampered for much of the distance after picking up a rubber marker cone which lodged beneath his machine.

In practice for the Speedstar ’82 contest, John Watson and Derek Daly fell of their motorcycles, Daly getting away with ripped overalls while Watson hurt his hand. That meant that the McLaren driver had to retire from the Sunday competition after taking part in only the driving test, missing the bike race and the motorcycle trial. Daly successfully emerged overall winner of the Speedstar ’82 event, taking maximum points from the circuit race, second place in the driving tests and second on the Special Stage using the ill-fated Straws. Nigel Mansell failed to improve on fifth overall in the Speedstar event, his overall score spoilt by a broken gearbox during his circuit race in the Metro. He managed fourth place the the driving test, sixth place in the cycle race and fifth in the trial. Joint second place in the contest fell to Le Mans winner Derek Bell, after a particularly fine showing in the driving tests, the Porsche driver sharing the position with Pond. However, as the outcome of any tie was to be decided by the participants’ Metro race positions, Bell had to give best to his rallying compatriot. — A.H.