If part of me was still debating whether to head to Lydden Hill in Kent for this weekend’s World Rallycross Championship event, the news that Will Gollop will be present in his Silkolene-backed MG Metro 6R4 has clinched the deal.
When I was young I hoovered up any motor racing I could find on BBC Grandstand. The end of the year was always a fruitful time, with the Formula Ford Festival and then the British Rallycross GP, both at Brands Hatch.
On television, Gollop’s 6R4 – which will appear this weekend at Lydden as part of a special historic celebration – was one of those motorsport machines that just looked perfect to me, along with the Silk Cut Jaguars at Le Mans and Nigel Mansell’s 1989 Ferrari F1 car.
After watching the event on television, I'd seek out the reports on the British Rallycross GP in the following week’s Motorsport News (then called Motoring News), so it is apt that our sister publication is backing this weekend’s event at the Kent circuit as part of its 60th birthday celebrations.
Rallycross has been around almost as long, but the sport’s prominence has burst through the stratosphere in recent years - chiefly, I suspect, because it is the ideal motor sport for the modern generation. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone; this drag race between a rallycross car, Ariel Atom and superbike is one of the most popular ever on our video channel.
Rallycross's mixed-surface races are short, sharp and attention-grabbing - you might say it's perfect for the younger generation who find their attention diverted by social media on their smartphones every five minutes.
The cars look and sound aggressive, replete with suitably garish sponsorship liveries. Whereas during the 1980s and 1990s these cars would have looked like high-speed fag packets, they now resemble energy drink cans.
Adding extra spice this weekend will be the return to rallycross of Andrew Jordan, now plying his trade in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship but moonlighting in a Peugeot 208 this weekend, and the debut of Guy Wilks, a double British rally champion, in a Mini.
The barometers of their performances will be reigning champion Petter Solberg, who is leading the points after three events in his Citroën DS3, and Topi Heikkinen, who won last time out in Belgium for Volkswagen.
The purist in me rankles slightly at rallycross’s ‘joker lap’ format, where each competitor must take a detour once per race. I can understand the reasoning behind it, but it feels to me that a world championship should be a ‘pure’ competition rather than feature any kind of contrived stunt.