WORLD Cup fever gripped Wirral today as some of the finest cars and bikes from England and Italy took part in a race through the Wallasey Tunnel. 

It was part of the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power, which took its theme from the upcoming Rio 2014 World Cup fixture between the two nations, who each boast world-class motoring.

The cars gathered at Wirral Waters site at West Float in Birkenhead for a pre-race briefing. The site was regarded by organisers as the ideal venue for this automotive exhibition.

Setting the cars off on their way at the tunnel entrance was Laura Wright, who performed the National Anthem and Nessun Dorma, said: "I've never done any like this before, it was so exciting."

Kevin Adderley, Wirral council's strategic director for regeneration and environment, said: "Wirral is perfectly placed to take advantage of the growth we are seeing in the automotive sector in the UK, and particularly on the supply chain side.

"The advanced supplier park that will form a key part of the Wirral Waters regeneration scheme is coming to Wirral partly because of the borough’s proximity to businesses like Bentley, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover and Toyota.

"The Pageant of Power is a fitting event to host at West Float, bringing as it does a host of the world’s leading brands to the Wirral Waters site."

James Hall, Cholmondeley Pageant of Power event director told the Globe: "It's a great day, because it's the culmination of lots of work to try and do something really eccentric, which is to have this noise-off through the tunnel between England and Italy before the World Cup."

The cars are on view at West Float.