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Prodrive legends set to star at this year’s Classic Nostalgia weekend

qatar rally 1984, saeed alhajri, porsche 911 scrs

Flagship event will celebrate 40 years of Prodrive success on stage, track and road. Spectacular Prodrive cars will be in action at the famous Shelsley Walsh hillclimb. Popular Classic Nostalgia weekend will take place on 20-21 July 2024. Weekend includes rally cars, Formula 1, NASCAR and competitive hillclimb classes. Plus car-club displays, C&SC Concours, live entertainment, big-name interviews and more!

This year’s Classic Nostalgia weekend will celebrate 40 years of one of the world’s most successful motorsport companies. Since being founded in 1984, Prodrive has created some of the most iconic race and rally cars of all time, and enthusiasts will be able to see a spectacular selection of them in action at Shelsley Walsh this July.

Prodrive became synonymous with Subaru during the 1990s and early 2000s, and few enthusiasts will ever forget Colin McRae’s emotional win on the 1995 RAC Rally. The victory made him Britain’s first World Rally Champion and gave Subaru the first of three consecutive manufacturers’ titles, while Prodrive later propelled Richard Burns and Petter Solberg to the drivers’ championship.

To mark 25 years since the introduction of the Impreza WRC97 rally car, Prodrive reimagined it using modern technology to create the P25 – the ultimate Impreza road car. After its launch in 2022, only 25 examples were built, each using an original two-door Impreza WRX chassis. Extensive use of carbon composites kept the weight under 1200kg, the 2.5-litre engine was totally re-engineered by Prodrive to produce more than 400bhp, and the car that Top Gear called ‘a stunning labour of love’ will now take centre-stage at Classic Nostalgia.

As well as its high-profile relationship with Subaru, Prodrive’s extensive success with other manufacturers will be celebrated at Shelsley Walsh. On 27 January 1984, the company competed in its first ever event – the Qatar International Rally – with a Porsche 911 SC RS. In a sign of things to come, Qatari driver Saeed Al-Hajri took victory and went on claim that year’s FIA Middle East Rally Championship. Finnish ace Henri Toivonen campaigned the same car in the European Rally Championship, and the sight of the Rothmans-liveried 911 tackling the famous hillclimb is sure to be a highlight of the Classic Nostalgia weekend.

kris meeke, mini wrc, rally italia sardegna 2011
Kris Meeke, Mini WRC, Rally Italia Sardegna 2011

It will be joined by a MINI John Cooper Works WRC, the car campaigned by Prodrive during the 2011 World Rally Championship season. The programme marked the first time that a car bearing the Mini name had competed in top-level international rallying since the glory days of the 1960s.

Based on the MINI Countryman, the WRC featured a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine that was developed by BMW Motorsport for use in a variety of competitive disciplines. Prodrive has a long history with the famous German marque, and it will also be bringing to Shelsley Walsh a 1990 BMW E30 M3, the same type of car in which Bernard Beguin won the 1987 Tour de Corse – Prodrive’s first victory at World Rally Championship level.

That was also the year in which Prodrive made its debut in circuit racing by running BMW’s entry in the British Touring Car Championship. In 1988, Frank Sytner won the BTCC title outright, and Prodrive ran manufacturer programmes in the series throughout the 1990s. It then turned its hand to sports cars, re-engineering the Ferrari 550 Maranello into a successful GT racer and taking the first of many class wins in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Its hugely successful partnership with Aston Martin has subsequently delivered the FIA World Endurance Championship GT Teams’ and Drivers’ titles.

David Richards, Prodrive founder and chairman, said: “We’re very excited to be celebrating this milestone anniversary at Classic Nostalgia. Few motorsport venues are as atmospheric as Shelsley Walsh, and best of all is the fact that it will allow enthusiasts to really get close to these amazing cars. I’m incredibly proud of Prodrive’s continuing success in everything from rallying to sports cars, and being able to share that during the Classic Nostalgia weekend will be very special.”

The Prodrive cars will be demonstrated by a team including company stalwarts David Lapworth and Paul Howarth, and there will be another treat for rally fans in the shape of a stellar line-up of competing Group A, Group B and WRC cars. Crowd favourites Ralli 22 will return in full force and on full throttle, showcasing cars from the flame-spitting Group B years to Group A and the WRC era, and there will also be a special tribute to honour Ralli 22 founder Steve Davies.

Other highlights include the Hesketh 308 Formula 1 car in which James Hunt won the 1974 International Trophy at Silverstone, a thunderous selection of NASCAR machinery, a full programme of hillclimb competition, the Classic & Sports Car Concours, and off-track entertainment ranging from the Exhibition of Speed art gallery to live bands and main-stage interviews. Now firmly established as one of the highlights of the historic-motorsport calendar, this year’s Classic Nostalgia weekend is set to be another unmissable event.