Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Scottish Motorsport Festival launched.


McRae R4, Jimmy McRae and a fellow who looks strangely familiar...

Formula One World Championship titles, Indianapolis 500 victories, Le Mans 24 Hours wins, World Rally Championship crowns... the small nation of Scotland has left an indelible mark on the motor sport world over the decades and it continues to do so today. To celebrate this long-running success and to look to the future, the Motor Sports Association, the sport’s UK governing body, has created the ‘Scottish Motorsport Festival’, a week of events (1-9 October 2011) book-ended by the Colin McRae Forest Stages Rally and the RACMSA Rally of Scotland (7-9 Oct), two of the country’s premier sporting events.

The newly created Scottish Motorsport Festival will feature lots of highlights and activities. There will be star driver forums; the best of Scottish rally talent competing in the final round of the Scottish Rally Championship on the McRae Stages; an introduction to karting for schools; a special autotest between the media and leading competitors from the Intercontinental Rally Challenge; Scottish debuts for some of the late Colin McRae’s car collection; the excitement and speed of Europe’s best crews tackling the RACMSA Rally of Scotland stages; the launch of a new rally championship for 14-17 year old children at Scone Palace; plus the final round of the Scottish Motor Racing Club’s year at the Knockhill circuit. All these experiences give the Festival an exciting and packed programme with something for everyone to enjoy. As well as these sporting events, there will be engineering tours and visits to top racing and rallying teams by university students studying relevant courses.

Backed by EventScotland, the national events agency, this inaugural Scottish Motorsport Festival puts the spotlight on rallying and the partners believe that this new initiative has the potential to embrace an even wider spectrum of motor sport disciplines as the Festival evolves and grows in future years.

Five times British Rally Champion, Jimmy McRae said: “To have a motor sport festival that is designed to further promote all the opportunities that exist within our sport means that we look to grow on Scotland’s success into the future. That so many of the activities include kids is one of the reason that the Colin McRae Vision Charity is supporting this initiative as this is the reason for the charity, but it is also where the future champions will come from.”

Paul Di Resta, the latest in a long line of Scottish F1 drivers, commented: “Scotland has a fine tradition of producing some great motor racing talents, which is remarkable when you consider that we’re not the biggest country in the world!

When I was starting out in karting there was a lot to inspire me. I was always hearing stories about the great Jim Clark and, of course, Sir Jackie Stewart, who continues to help and support Scottish drivers. More recently there was David Coulthard, who I remember watching on television when I was growing up. It was always my goal to follow in his footsteps and help make Scotland proud.

But it’s not just Formula 1 where Scottish drivers have shown their skill. We have been well represented in most major championships around the world with drivers like Dario Franchitti, my cousin, winning the Indy 500 twice and Allan McNish having great success in sports cars.

We also have a great tradition in rallying thanks to the legacy of Colin McRae, who is surely remembered as one of the most spectacular drivers of all time. With icons like these there is plenty to inspire the next generation of Scottish motor sport stars.”

The Festival starts with an all-star forum run by Colin McRae Vision on the eve of the McRae Stages Rally on Friday 30 September at 8.30pm. Those attending the forum include 1984 World Rally Champion Stig Blomqvist (the original ‘Stig’!) and 2004 World Rally Champion co-driver Phil Mills. The following day Blomqvist will take part in the Historic section of the McRae Stages before the Scottish Rally Championship crews take to the stages for the last round of their eight-rally season.

Forthside Park in Stirling sees the Intercontinental Rally Challenge stars take on a new challenge with an autotest against their media counterparts. Autotesting is one of the cheapest forms of motor sport to enter and the stars from Skoda, Peugeot, Proton and Citroen will use road cars in these maneuverability tests on the Tuesday evening (4 Oct).

Once back in their rally cars, the IRC crews will leave Stirling Castle on Friday night (7 Oct) to tackle two and a half days of flat out motoring over the world famous stages of Perthshire, Lanarkshire and Stirlingshire to find the winner of Rally of Scotland. The spectacular Stirling Castle start will feature motorbike trials demonstrations as well as an opportunity for fans to see the Colin McRae R4 rally car for the first time in Scotland. There is also an autograph session during which fans can meet the very best rally drivers Europe has to offer.

On Sunday 9 October, the Knockhill Race Circuit in Fife hosts the final race weekend of the Scottish Motor Racing Club’s busy season. An action-packed afternoon of racing will feature Scottish Formula Ford, Legends, Mini Cooper, Sports & Saloon and Classic Sports & Saloon championships.

With one eye on the future, the Scottish Motorsport Festival will culminate at Scone Palace on Sunday evening (9 Oct) with a sneak preview of a new rally championship aimed at finding the next Scottish champion. To be introduced in 2012, the championship is for 1000cc cars driven by children aged from 14-17 years of age. Accompanied by experienced competitors in the co-drivers’ seats, these budding young Colin McRaes can start learning the art of driving over loose surfaces before they are allowed on the open, public roads. To showcase this exciting new series six of the cars will be providing a demonstration around the final two stages of Rally of Scotland at Scone Palace.

The full schedule of events and timings are available from the new Scottish Motorsport Festival website: www.scottishmotorsportfestival.co.uk