Keith Adams recalls the excellent Austin Rover Rallysprint 1983, which pitted the cream of Grand Prix drivers against the top rally drivers of the day to see who came out on top.
The cars used were a combination of Rover SD1s on gravel, MG Metros in an autotest and MG Maestros on the track. With Nigel Mansell, John Watson and Tony Pond competing, it’s compelling viewing.
Austin Rover Rallysprint 1983: Maestros racing in Maestros
The Austin Rover Rallysprint was a legendary annual motor sport event which ran throughout the early 1980s, and saw rally drivers pitched against their F1 counterparts to see which discipline bred the best drivers. The 1983 event, which was staged in Donington, had what can only be described as an all-star grid, and was split three ways to decide which motor sport created the best drivers – F1 or rallying.
The Grand Prix drivers
- 1: Nigel Mansell
- 3: John Watson
- 5: Derek Warwick
- 7: Danny Sullivan
The World Rally drivers
- 2: Jimmy McRae
- 4: Pentti Airikkala
- 6: Stig Blomqvist
- 8: Tony Pond
They went up against each other on the rally stage, autotest and racing circuit. The rallying was interesting, given that it was in the Rover SD1 and this was the legendary Tony Pond’s car of choice at the time, so you won’t be too shocked at how that one panned out. The autotest in the MG Metro was great fun, but the main event was reserved for the then-new MG Maestros on track.
And it’s here, at the Donington Grand Prix circuit, that we’re treated to the field racing in identical MG Maestro 1600s. Needless to say, the action started out cleanly enough, but as the laps passed, the race became more of a contact affair. We won’t give the game away, but given the field, you won’t be surprised to see who won…
On the circuit, you’ll see some comical roll angles from the Maestros. BL’s PR supremo Ian Elliott recalled why: ‘They were given the absolute minimum of preparation beyond the obvious rollcage, competition brake pads etc. I don’t think they were even fully run in!’