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One of Australia's leading motorsport photographers, Stuart Bowes, spent last weekend in Germany to witness first hand the Eifel Rallye Festival, an event which is undoubtedly rallying's version of the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Nearly 160 cars, covering the glory days of Group B rallying, were entered in the event, based in the Eifel Mountains, just south of the Nurburgring race track.


Fiat Abarth 131, Eifel Rallye FestivalThis was the 11th running of the event, and 40,000 spectators took in the awe-inspiring action of the Group B machines - from Quattros to Deltas.

"It was a previously a round of the European Championship with a handful of classic cars at the head of the field to warm up the punters, but the trouble was. the punters were then luke warm by the time the modern machinery came along," Bowes says.

"And so the rally monsters squeezed out the current swag of sequential gearbox, traction control, Mickey Mouse racers – it's now only for 'real' cars.

"It's not a rally as we’ve come to know them. Given many of the cars are the real deal, or at worst a perfect replica (a Group B Audi Sport Quattro replica can set you back close to 200,000 Euros), some of the drivers could do with spending a little of their hard-earned cash on driving lessons, but most are hard into it with the right foot buried to the floor."

There is no timing in the event, and no overall winners, so it's okay for competitors to miss a stage or two to carry out repairs.

"The action is spread over two and a half hours at each spot and there's no seeing the fast guys then rushing to the next location, they're spread right through the field," Bowes added.

"A Fulvia with a Stratos up its clacker, or a Quattro hunting down a two stroke Trabant is bloody brilliant entertainment!"

Audi Sport Quattros, Eifel Rallye FestivalThe local Audi club turned up in no less than 12 Sport Quattro road cars and parked them all on the forecourt of rally HQ, an impressive site.

The start list was riddled with names like Quattro, Lancia 037, Delta Integrale, Peugeot 205 T16, Ford RS200, Fiat Abarth 131, Opel Manta, Celica Turbo Twin Cam, the list goes on and on and on….. there was even Ari Vatanen's Peugeot 405 T16 Dakar car from 1988.

And many of the stars of the 1980s were there too. Walter Rohrl, Bjorn Waldegard, Stig Blomqvist, Harri Toivonen (yes the brother of the late Henri Toivonen, killed on the Tour de Corse in 1986), and Simo Lampinen, were all present.

"Forget the Festival of Speed, that's for the black top boys with run off areas. Rallying is for real men (and women) in real cars," Bowes said.

View Stuart Bowes' brilliant photos from the Eifel Rallye Festival HERE.


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