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GP Week : Issue 181
5 MINUTES [Kankkunen] took me in various cars. We went in a Lancia Stratos, an S4 Delta, and had a whale of a time. They also had the ECV there, which was the car that got banned before it was launched. It was the ECV concept vehicle, which basically an F1 car in disguise – 850bhp. The S4 – the 650 – was absolutely frightening. It was exhilarating, but... Did you keep your lunch? Yes, but... Fortunately, because of the age of the cars the brakes went before my stomach did! In those days they must have done a lot to manage the brakes – we could feel the brakes were struggling a bit after some hard pounding. But my god, what power! It was absolutely phenomenal, a once-in-a -lifetime experience. Have you seen that this year the FIA have allowed some of the old Group B cars into the historic rally championship? I think they’ve got two Lancia 037s competing. That’s good, because they’ll be running Pirelli tyres! We did the tyres for those; they were running on the wrong tyres, cut tyres, so we actually brought them back again for the 037s. If we’ve seen anything, we’ve seen a huge growth in historical rallying, and that’s something that rallying needs to have a look at – why is there that interest? It’s not just about the nostalgia, people have fun. When you talk to the drivers about the type of cars they enjoy driving, it won’t shock you to know that there aren’t many of the last generation of WRCs that appeal to them. They want the power, the grunt... They want the power and the grunt but also they want the cars to move around with a little bit more balance, so you can play around a bit on the throttle. But with the historics they have certainly created a great new interest and passion. Some of it, I guess, comes from the investment point of view – you can buy a vehicle that will be worth something after wards. But it’s not only that – they’re attracting big fields. Look at the Roger Clark Rally, which has more than 100 entries with a waiting list hundreds long. Everywhere you go, the historics are attracting interest. I think that’s fantastic. Do you have a favourite historic rally car, or are you not allowed to pick favourites? It’s got to be an Italian one. The Stratos (right) has got to be the one for me as it’s the first one I saw. It’s the classic, isn’t it? I was a young lad, 11 years old, at an RAC rally somewhere. I can’t remember where, but it was in a forest, and my cousins had taken me out there in the freezing cold. I was moaning, because I was young, asking ‘what the hell are we doing here?’, then I heard this car coming, making one hell of a noise, flames coming out of the back as it went by. It rips your lungs out, doesn’t it? I was amazed. ‘Oh my god, what is that?’ It was a Stratos, but – I found out much later in life when I saw some photographs – it was actually Markku Alén in the Pirelli Stratos! So it was my destiny – I was going to get into motorsport via Pirelli. It made it quite poignant when he drove me in the Stratos. I said to him ‘it’s been 30 years since I saw you drive this car in the RAC, and now here I am sitting next to you’. Magic. It’s funny how life comes full circle sometimes ... 8 GPWEEK.com // 8 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: