The return of F1 cars to Scottish soil was the highlight of the Mount Stuart Motorsport Classic. Test drivers Takuma Sato for BAR-Honda and Olivier Beretta for BMW-Williams thrilled a crowd of 10,000 at the event run in the grounds of Mount Stuart house on the Isle of Bute.
By blasting around the course set up in the grounds of the ancestral home of Johnny Dumfries, the BAR and Williams became the first contemporary F1 cars to run in Scotland since Jackie Stewart drove a Tyrrell at Ingliston in 1978.
Both drivers played to the enthusiastic crowd, power-sliding through the hairpin in front of the main house and providing a fantastic spectacle as they threaded along the ribbon of slippery Tarmac.
Supported by Motor Sport, the Three Nations Rallysprint provided the core of the competitive action and resulted in a win for the home team against squads from Ireland and England. In what was possibly his final competitive drive for the Mitsubishi team, Alister McRae thrilled the fans by setting the overall pace in an Evo WRC02.
However, a fierce challenge from Irish veteran Denis Biggerstaff in his Metro 6R4 kept McRae on his toes, and only 4sec split them on total times. Last year’s winner Gary Adam fell foul of the damp conditions on his first run and spun his Subaru Impreza, an incident which cost him any chance of challenging McRae.
The British arm of the ever-growing ‘Slowly Sideways’ movement brought a glorious array of Group B rally cars out for some entertaining demo runs, while the final round of the Scottish MINI Cooper Challenge Cup was won by seasoned racer Alistair McKever.
Away from the competitive action, the Renault Heritage display was a big draw. It included the 1978 Le Mans-winning Alpine A442B and the replica of the historic Type K racer which won the 1902 Paris-Vienna race, and which was demonstrated on this occasion by Renault F1 test driver Allan McNish.