Stage stars on display

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Donington Collection welcomes its first rally cars | by Paul Lawrence

The 12 race and rally cars that best tell the 30-year story of Prodrive Engineering will be on show at the Donington Grand Prix Collection for the next year, in a display headlined by the Subaru Impreza rally cars of Colin McRae and Richard Burns.

While Prodrive moves to new premises in Banbury, 12 of its most famous race and rally cars will form a new display alongside 130 racing cars at Donington. This is the first time that rally machinery has been on show in the Donington Collection.

“We’re very proud to be part of this very famous collection: it’s a great line-up of cars and we’re very privileged to be here,” said Prodrive boss and founder David Richards. “Hopefully it will bring some rally people in to see the wonderful racing cars, too.”

Kevin Wheatcroft, chairman of Donington Park and son of Collection founder Tom, felt this was a chance to broaden the venue’s appeal. “It’s added a different dimension and we’re really proud to have these cars here,” he said.

Wheatcroft added that hosting the Prodrive display was another important move for the East Midlands track. “Five years on from the British Grand Prix project, we’re fully recovered now,” he said. “Knowing Wheatie [Tom] as we did, I’m sure he’d find something to complain about, but he’d be pleased at the way things worked out.”

McRae’s Impreza, from Catalunya in 1996, and Burns’ 2000 Safari car take pride of place alongside Jimmy McRae’s 1986 Metro 6R4. The 1984 Porsche 911 SC RS of Henri Toivonen, the firm’s first rally car, is also on display.

The Super Touring cars of Alain Menu (2000 BTCC-winning Ford Mondeo) and James Thompson (1998 Honda Accord) feature, with a recent Dani Sordo Mini WRC, a BMW M3 rally car and the Aston Martin DBR9 Le Mans racer.

“Every one of the cars at Donington has a piece of history and I could tell you a story about every car,” Richards said. “Looking around the room, the driver line-up represents an extraordinary collection of people who have been involved with Prodrive at one stage or another.”

Richards admits that the collection provokes some very strong emotions. “Looking at Colin McRae’s Subaru brings back some outstanding memories,” he said. “Then there is Richard Burns’ winning Subaru: I’m sure each one of them holds very special memories for the people in the Prodrive team. But so do some of the racing machines, such as the British Touring Car Championship Mondeo.”