LAST month saw Broadway-based rally driver Gary Le Coadou and his stepson Bill Paynter, who lives in Taunton, invited by the Duke of Richmond to take their Group A Toyota Celica GT4 to the Goodwood Speedweek event.

As a result of both the iconic Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Goodwood Revival being cancelled due to Covid-19, the Duke decided to run a new event behind closed doors.

The televised coverage was shown on the main ITV channel and live streamed on three consecutive days on ITV4. Highlights can be seen on ITV Player.

The heavily marshalled non-spectator event was based within the secured compound of the Goodwood Aerodrome & Motor Circuit, near Chichester, West Sussex.

Because of Covid-19 restrictions, no tickets were sold for the event and extremely limited numbers of personnel/mechanics were allowed on site to support the drivers.

Everyone had to follow strict guidelines, wear a mask and social distance at all times.

Le Coadou and Paynter’s Toyota Celica was among the 30 rally cars invited to compete on the ‘Super Special Rally Stage’.

There were many past and current World Rally Championship drivers attending, including Elfyn Evans (who is currently leading the World Championship), Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke, who were all driving non-competitively in showcasing the new 4wd Toyota GR Yaris.

Other drivers attending included 1984 world champion Stig Blomqvist and British Championship drivers Rhys Yates, Osian Pryce and Ollie Mellors.

The ‘Super Special Rally’ consisted of seven stages on and around the Motor Circuit, incorporating the perimeter roads and partial use of the track.

The flag dropped for SS1 at 6pm on Thursday and it finished on the Friday night with several night stages on both days.

The stages were short and great fun, but very technical, with mixed asphalt and gravel sections which caught many a driver out.

Le Coadou and Paynter got off to a great start and were really happy to be in seventh place overnight, before moving up a position on Friday to finish sixth overall - only beaten by more modern machinery, and ahead of Blomqvist in his Escort World Rally car.

The winner of the event was Yates in the Fiesta R5.

The Celica performed impeccably and gave a great ‘live’ performance on SS2 which is featured on as one of Thursday’s best four night runs.

Le Coadou said: “It was so nice to be out competing again, as all of our events have been cancelled this year due to Covid-19.”