Lombard Rally

Longleat echoed to the roar not of Lions but of rally engines when the estate was used as part of a tour in an event to celebrate rallying history

Stars from rallying history gathered early on Saturday morning to celebrate the story of Britain's biggest rally, the Lombard RAC Rally.

A capacity field of 120 entries took part in the tour, which comprises a relaxed tour of former spectator special stages in the south-west including Longleat

Lombard Rally Bath was organised as a non-competitive tour to celebrate the four years in the 1970s and '80s when Bath was the host town for the Lombard RAC Rally.

The day, which follows part of the route used in the 1976 rally re-created the traditional Sunday run of spectator special stages that were a regular feature in period, with Longleat the first section before the crews made their way onto Wiscombe Park hillclimb course in Devon

Leading drivers taking part included two-time event winner Stig Blomqvist, five-time British rally champion Jimmy McRae, Louise Aitken-Walker and David Llewellin.

Blomqvist drove a Group B Audi Quattro, while McRae will team up with Ian Grindrod in an Opel Manta 400.

Other notable cars include Lancia 037s, Ford Focus WRCs and ex-works Ford Escorts.

Many drivers from the 1976 rally, the first to be hosted in Bath, taking part including Tony Fowkes, Geoff Simpson, Gill Robinson and Jeff Williamson.

On Saturday morning part of Great Pulteney Street in the centre of Bath was closed to recreate the start venue from period.

Peter Tilley of Trowbridge who was heavily involved in the running of the 1976 Lombard International rally from Bath was in Pultney Street to see the start of the Lombard Bath.

He said; It was like stepping back in time to watch these cars from the by gone era of Rallying’

Bath Motor Club Chairman Dave Whittock, who has been involved in organising international events in earlier years was at Longleat to stage the section.

He said; “This was a nostalgic event to be part of to see those cars from the famous years of the 70s and 80s back on this rally route”

And for our Photographer Trevor Porter is was a time of reflection of the days when he received an award from the Famous Roger Clark 1976 RAC Lombard rally winner for running the help desk when the Rally was hosted in Bath.