RAC Rally of the Tests 2018: Day 3 - Grand finale at RAC Bristol | Video

RAC Rally of the Tests 2018: Day 3 - Grand finale at RAC Bristol | Video
Sunday was the final day of this year’s marathon RAC Rally of the Tests.

After hundreds of miles, umpteen tests and more than a few mechanical maladies, the Thursday evening start in Harrogate seemed but a distant memory for most crews,. Spirits were still high, but the finish line was in sight, and everyone was looking forward to tasting champagne at the end.

Crews were treated to a 15-minute Sunday morning lie-in, starting the 175-mile day at 8am. They deserved it: ahead of them were 10 tests and five regulatory challenges.

Things were tight at the top, with just seconds splitting the leading crews, so every section counted. The pressure was on.

The route took them to Chepstow Racecourse, then over the Severn Bridge from Wales into England. It even took in Worthy Farm, better known as the home of the Glastonbury music festival. All crews stopped at 11am to pay their respects on Remembrance Sunday with a two-minute silence. Then, in the afternoon, there was a series of events at the Castle Coombe race circuit, before heading back west to Bristol, and a landmark of the M5 motorway...

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The RAC regional control centre at Bradley Stoke played host to the final test of the 2018 RAC Rally of the Tests. The car park was turned into a quick autotest course, designed to thrill the spectators. After accelerating away from the line, crews weaved through barriers, circulated a cone, then blasted straight across the main entrance of the RAC building, reaching speeds never before seen in the car park, before drifting through a left-right-left sequence and scrabbling to a halt between two cones.

It was all against the clock, like all the tests, and for many, the pressure really was on to grab a place or two in the final rankings. The cars started arriving at around half past three, but spectators had been there for hours beforehand, revelling in the autumn sunshine and enjoying the many classic RAC patrol cars on display.

Carnival atmosphere

It was a packed crowd, fuelled by food stalls and a coffee bar, and developed into something of a rally-car party for all the family. This was a rare chance to get super-close to competition rally cars and watch them perform just inches away.

The first car, a Porsche 911, literally drew gasps when it tore away: few could quite believe how fast and committed the action was. Glorious noise echoed around the ground – and when they skidded to a halt at the end, there were cheers and a round of applause. This continued for every car, particularly the more dramatic performances: some were eager to please the crowds…

With smartphones at the ready, many people were sharing images on social media, using the hashtag #RACRally18. Take a look to see the afternoon’s performance from every angle. You’ll spot some of the other highlights too, from several happy dogs to the world’s cutest baby wearing a set of fluorescent green ear defenders.

And the winners are...

After the RAC test, it was a short sprint north for the teams to Tortworth Court Hotel. Here was the final main time control, and the official end of the 2018 RAC Rally of the Tests.

Teams were greeted with a chequered flag, a photocall through the official liveried rally arch – and later, a champagne reception and a black tie gala dinner.

So who, in the end, won the overall rally? After nearly 10 hours’ competitive driving, the margin came down to just 22 seconds – with the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint of Paul Wignall and Mark Appleton beating the Volvo PV544 of Dan Willan and Martyn Taylor. The Mini Cooper S of Steve Entwistle and Ali Procter was in third. The happy crews took their trophies with relish, and then, by all accounts, partied well into the early hours of Monday.

And that’s it – the end of the 2018 RAC Rally of the Tests. Everyone involved agrees it’s been a classic event, with a spectacular route and some brilliant tests along the way.

All competitors now have many days’ cleaning and servicing their cars ahead, but with the fresh provenance of having completed one of the most famous and longest-running rallies in Britain. We expect most of them to be back next year, and we will be too. See you there?

Some more shots of today's action

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Video highlights of the full event

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