Firle Beacon festival in pics: classic road and rally cars grace the stage | Top Gear
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Firle Beacon festival in pics: classic road and rally cars grace the stage

Another car festival has joined the roster of UK motor shows. Here's what the first one looked like

Published: 02 Aug 2022
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Like seeing old cars – especially rally cars – in action? Another promising event for them had its first running this weekend. Welcome to the Firle Beacon hillclimb and festival, in East Sussex.

As the Goodwood Festival of Speed gets more and more overcrowded, there's a definite gap for smaller less crowded events.

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There were no world-famous drivers here. It was about the cars, 60-odd of them. But today's owners did give a serious workout to an RAC-winning Impreza driven by McRae, and his works Focus, and a Hannu Mikkola Quattro, a Tommi Makkinen Evo VI, a Computervision Metro 6R4 and a pair of Integrales.

Plus heaps of lovely old rear-drive entertainers doing some proper gravel sliding: Mk1 and Mk2 Escorts, a Stratos, an A110, a 240Z, an M3, a Sierra Cosworth, a mid-engined R5 Turbo 1. Then came a heap of fascinating rallycross specials.

The course runs through the grounds of the stately home (remind you of anything?) then twists through the village of Firle itself, and finally another mile and a quarter up a closed road to the top of the South Downs escarpment. The drivers must have loved it.

And, running a shorter course, there were vintage and classic cars that ran on the nearby post-war Bo-Peep hillclimb. Also, for reasons that aren't entirely clear but who cares, some retired NASCAR rumblers. And a Mk1 Fiat Panda pickup.

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As it was the first year, it was accidentally socially distanced. I wonder if the catering vans had done enough business to satisfy them. The portable toilets were mercifully sparsely used.

Which all meant you could secure a great view of the action, and nose around the paddocks talking to the car's keepers.

Everyone had fun and the instigator, Lord Gage, says he wants to see it become an annual event. Hope it manages to get through the difficult fledgling stage.

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