The Complete Book of World Rally Championship by Henry Hope-Frost

A rallying Wisdens - anoraks will love it
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The Independent Culture

There is only one problem with this encyclopaedic 320 page volume, and that is that it is not quite big and encyclopaedic enough. Turning excitedly to the section entitled "The Cars", complete with its entertaining photographs of flying Saabs and Escorts, I could find no mention of the famous Mini Coopers that won the Monte Carlo rally three times in a row in the 1960s (the 40th anniversary of Paddy Hopkirk's victory falling about now).

The reason, I soon discovered, is that this volume confines itself to the past 30 years or so, so the glorious days of Mini domination have been missed out. Perhaps the authors would consider writing a "prequel" volume covering an earlier, and perhaps even more heroic, era in the history of rallying.

That said, this is just as useful and entertaining a book as its companion, The Complete Guide to Formula One, already reviewed in these pages. The Complete Book of the World Rally Championship offers all the special pleasures that such compilations offer anoraks, but its clear layout and bold use of pictures lifts it far beyond the status of mere compendium.

Rally car photography is instantly evocative and exciting, and the best is well represented here. I expect it's something about the plucky little cars, the spirited driving and the beautiful surroundings the teams usually find themselves in, from the Finnish lakes to the Sahara. In other words, think of this book as a sort of rallying Wisdens with added testosterone and better pictures and you'll get the drift, if you'll pardon the expression.