Flying Finn to draw the crowds at Rallyday

Wiltshire Times: Mikko Hirvonen Mikko Hirvonen

The driver bidding to be the next World Rally champion, Mikko Hirvonen, is one of the star attractions at the 2008 Rallyday at the Castle Combe Circuit tomorrow.

Around 10,000 people are expected to turn up at the event, and visitors will get a rare opportunity to see Finn Hirvonen and his car in action, prior to the final round of the WRC, the Wales Rally GB, in December.

Hirvonen, 28, the works Ford Focus WRC driver, currently lies second in the world championship standings behind the legendary Frenchman Sebastian Loeb.

The battle for the title over the next four rounds is effectively between the two drivers.

At the Castle Combe event Hirvonen's car will be run by the M Sport team who manage Ford's WRC programme and successfully won the WRC manufacturers title in both 2006 and 2007.

The Finn, who is making his second visit to the circuit, said he was excited to be taking part in the event.

Hirvonen said: "I'm looking forward to putting on a good show and having some fun behind the wheel.

"This will be my second visit to Castle Combe for Rallyday with the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team and after the monsoon-like weather of 2006 I hope the weather is kinder to us this year. I had huge fun there two years ago.

"Demonstration events like this offer the opportunity to show the crowds the capabilities of the Ford Focus RS World Rally Car without having to worry about the pressures of the ticking clock."

Further attractions include the appearance of British Rally Champion and Mitsubishi works driver Guy Wilks in the Lancer WRC05.

Wilks said: "I've been to Rallyday before and it really is a great day out, even more so for me this year as it will be the first time I have driven at the event."

Another famous Mitsubishi driver at the Rallyday will be former British Rally Champion Gwyndaf Evans.

Other former champions turning up will include World Rally champion co-driver Phil Mills, British Rally champion Russell Brookes and Finnish and Scandinavian champion Pentti Airikkala.

Colin McRae's former co-driver Nicky Grist, Tony Mason and Howard Davies will be sharing commentary and interviewing drivers and celebrities throughout the day.

Hirvonen will be interviewed by Tony Mason on the main event stage at 11am and will then sign autographs for fans.

Among the many and varied club and trade displays at the event will be Rally Raid vehicles, while there will also be a Rallycross demonstration and the incredible antics of Russ Swift demonstrating his awesome driving skills.

Swift will show off his skills three times during the day, which will include a donut session and a precision driving showcase.

The event starts at 9am and admission is £15 for adults, £8 for OAPs and £3 for accompanied children under 16.

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