RAF Marham Rally Team take on Goodwood Festival of Speed Forest Rally Stage

The RAF Marham Rally team were once again honoured to be invited to take part in the Goodwood Festival of Speed’s Forest Rally Stage.

The Festival of Speed is the largest motoring garden party in the world – a unique summer weekend that brings together an impossibly heady mix of cars, stars and motor sport ‘royalty’ to create the largest car culture eventing the world. Held in the immaculate grounds of Goodwood House, this annual event is a true celebration of motor sport and all things automotive.

The theme for the 2014 Goodwood Festival of Speed was ‘Addicted to Winning – The Unbeatable Champions of Motor Sport’. This theme celebrated the legendary drivers and riders, teams and manufacturers, who have swept all before them in their sport.

The Rally Stage
For rally fanatics the Forest Rally Stage is an unmissable part of every Festival of Speed. A spectacular special stage in the woods, the Forest Rally Stage is a self-contained world-within-a-world devoted to everything rallying. A network of paths through the woods means spectators can get up close to the noise and sideways fury of the cars as they tackle the special stage against the clock. The paddock area, meanwhile, provides a great opportunity for enthusiasts to inspect the cars and meet the teams, including many famous drivers, in that friendly spirit that rallying does so well. And the RAF Marham Rally Team were a part of it!

The Team have been invited back year after year to showcase the skills of the Driver, Sgt Chris Daykin, and highlight the team camaraderie that helps epitomise the ethos of the RAF – be it teamwork, technical skill,  adaptability (especially when the car breaks or gets broken) and dedication.

This year, there was a ferocious battle between two of the latest WRC cars. Fastest times had been exchanged throughout the event between Sebastien Loeb in his Citroen DS3 WRC and Dani Sordo in a Hyundai WRC Car; who eventually clinched the fastest recorded laps around the Goodwood Festival of Speed’s 1.16-mile Forest Rally Stage.

However, the nine-time World Rally Champion Sebastian Loeb triumphed in the Goodwood Festival of Speed hillclimb shootout on the Sunday after he set the fastest time up the famous hill in his Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak.

Unfortunately the Team’s Group N Subaru Impreza is no match for the might of up-to-date world rally cars; however, the team put in a sterling performance, especially considering that Chris’ enthusiasm had exceeded his skill on the Manx Rally only four weeks before, which resulted in the car having to be completely rebuilt using a quickly sourced Impreza shell. This effort alone involved over 650 manhours and there was concern that the Team would not be able to showcase at the Festival of Speed, but they managed to get the car built, roadworthy and wrapped in the RAF inspired design in time to arrive on the Thursday evening before the event kicked off on Friday.

It was also heartening for the Team to have a visit from Officer Commanding Base Support Wing, Wg Cdr Neil Tomlin, who was particularly eager to take advantage of one of the demonstration runs that the Team were involved with. This saw the Wg Cdr strap in and go on a leisurely drive around the Forest Stage – although Chris may have got the interpretation wrong about the demonstration side of the jaunt and managed to both set his fastest time of the day on the stage and get the largest amount of air over one the Stage’s largest jumps.

The entire event was a considerable success. Although it will not count towards any championship points, it gave the Team a chance to shake down the car before the next event in Wales, as well as a terrific opportunity to showcase the Team and the RAF to the wider public.

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