It’s ironic that I should pen an article on Group B rally cars (a category in the World Rally Championship from 1982-1986 that saw the introduction of all-wheel-drive, 440+ horsepower flying machines), at exactly the same time as the organisers of an event in Germany have announced their intention to recreate those heady days of the early 80’s.
Described as a “demonstration event for historic rally cars”, 21-23 July 2016 will see the sixth edition of the Eifel Rallye Festival. Located in and around the town of Daun, set in the beautiful Vulkaneifel region just 23km SW of the world-famous Nürburgring (roughly south of Bonn, west of Frankfurt, NE of Luxembourg), the organisers have certainly set themselves some ambitious goals. “Our aim is to bring as many different Group B cars as possible to the Eifel”, says Reinhard Klein, head of “Slowly Sideways” – the group of rally car owners that makes up nearly the whole entry list of the event. But that’s not all. “Hopefully we can also show our audience a big collection of Group S prototypes.” Group S was a formula that never became reality in the WRC. It was supposed to succeed Group B as the highest class in world rallying from 1988 onwards, but after several tragic accidents in the first half of the 1986 WRC season, both classes were banished from international competition and replaced by Group A for 1987.
Confirming the quality of the event, for the second year running the Eifel Rallye Festival is one of the finalists of the “International Historic Motoring Awards”. As in the previous year, the Festival is the only rally event nominated in the category “Motorsport Event of the Year”. In the finals, it will compete against some of the greatest international historic motor sport events that include the “Classic 24 Daytona” in the US, the “Phillip Island Classic Festival of Motorsport” in Australia, the “Historic Grand Prix Zandvoort” and the “Silverstone Classic”. The winner will be announced during the awards gala in London on November 19th.
The “International Historic Motoring Awards” were founded in 2011 and now comprise twelve different categories. The “Motorsport Event of the Year” category is for historic motorsport events anywhere in the world, from race meetings to trials and non-timed road or off-road rallies. The judges will be looking for a memorable event, not just a spectacular individual race within a meeting or stage within a rally. The jury is made up of panel of well-known experts including former race drivers Derek Bell and Jochen Mass.
Apart from its theme, the 2016 Eifel Rallye Festival will also include some other new features, as Peter Schlömer, President of the MSC Daun and chief organiser of the event, explains. “This year, we have introduced a completely new demonstration stage into the Festival programme. In addition, I can promise you that there will also be some new highlights in 2016. I do not like to say too much right now, but I am sure fans and drivers will be pleased with these surprises.”
Walter Röhrl, World Rally Champion in 1980 and 1982 and patron of the Eifel Rallye Festival since 2011, says: “This year, four World Champion drivers and Sandro Munari in his Lancia Stratos have entertained the spectators. Now I am looking forward to the next edition.” His former co-driver Christian Geistdörfer, who is now part of the Eifel Rallye Festival organising team, adds to this: “Our aim for 2016 is also to have some of the important drivers of the Group B era in their former cars in the Eifel.”
Itinerary for Eifel Rallye Festival 2016
- The legendary Walter Röhrl as patron of the event (German Group B driver in the Audi Quattro).
- Participants from 12 countries worldwide.
- Vehicles from at least 30 manufacturers and 5 decades of rallying history.
- Open air cinema showing rally films from H. Deimel.
- See the cars that made the history of rallying: from the two-stroke Saab and Trabant up to the wild Group B supercars.
- A chance to meet at first hand with the stars of those days.
- Demonstration of the historic cars on the legendary stages of the Eifel-Rallye.
- Bosch Super Stage – spectacular all-gravel stage.
- A relaxed rally party for both fans and drivers set in the beautiful landscape of the “Vulkaneifel” – with the Oldie Band “Jimmy Beat”.
- Attractive supporting programme with further interesting cars.
- Hustle and bustle and entertainment on the “Rally Mile” in the city centre of Daun.
Eifel Rallye Festival 2015 DVD
Anyone who wants to relive the unique atmosphere of the 2015 Eifel Rallye Festival and watch the event from different perspectives can do so by getting the DVD. It features great action scenes, spectacular on-board footage and interesting interviews. This comprehensive review of the 2015 event focuses on the theme of “originality” and contains extended footage of some of the more spectacular original rally cars and details of their individual histories. Furthermore, it features the drivers who had also driven these cars in period such as Walter Röhrl, Sandro Munari, Hannu Mikkola, Stig Blomqvist and Timo Salonen. Running time of the main feature is about fifty minutes but there is bonus coverage that includes footage of all the cars entered. The DVD can be pre-ordered now for € 19.95 from www.rallywebshop.com. The first DVDs will probably be delivered by the beginning of November.