Wales Rally GB comes to North Wales once again this month – and it’s promising to be more exciting than ever before…

Take a deep breath: the thrilling title tussle for 2019 FIA World Rally Championship is roaring into the region as the protagonists rev up for Wales Rally GB (3rd – 6th October), round 12 of this year’s rousing 14-round World Rally Championship.

With just three rounds remaining on the calendar, the battle for both drivers’ and manufacturers’ honours is reaching fever pitch – so spectators are in for a four-day treat when the world’s best drivers and the sport’s speediest-ever cars lock horns in the legendary Welsh forests.

All the top stars will be in action in an incredible entry featuring no fewer than four previous event winners: reigning world champion Sébastien Ogier (FRA), Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN), Elfyn Evans (GBR) and Petter Solberg (NOR).

Ogier took a record fifth Wales Rally GB win 12 months ago, Latvala won in 2011, local hero Evans made his own history when winning in 2017 while the ebullient Solberg, a four-time winner between 2002 and 2005, is making an emotional farewell on a rally he adores. To mark the special occasion, Petter is joined on the entry list by his older brother Henning and 18-year-old son Oliver, one of the sport’s hottest prospects.

Adding to the excitement all the major protagonists are split between the four major manufacturer teams, guaranteeing fierce competition amongst the pace-setters. Moreover, all four teams are fielding the latest generation of World Rally Cars, the fastest machines ever unleashed in the forests.

Ogier, now lining up for Citroën, is locked in a titanic three-way scrap to retain his crown – the Frenchman currently trails Toyota’s series leader Ott Tänak to just 17 points with a maximum 90 points still available. Belgian ace Thierry Neuville is also in the fray for the Drivers’ title and is simultaneously spearheading Hyundai’s dual with Toyota for top place among the competing motor manufacturers.

While eyes around the globe will be focused on the two title fights, local hopes rest with Evans who lives locally in Dolgellau and Kris Meeke who hails from just across the Irish Sea in Northern Ireland.

The Welshman missed the previous three rounds through injury but returns just in time for his home event. “I can’t tell you how good it is to be back,” he says. “Missing those rallies has been a nightmare, but that’s done now and I’m only looking forward. And I’m really looking forward to being back in the car at home.”

What’s more Evans has a brand new Fiesta for his first WRC outing since his fourth place in Italy in the summer. “There’s no difference in the performance of the cars,” he admits, “but there’s always something special about a brand new car – and it’s another demonstration of the support the team has given me. I’m really grateful for that. They’re expecting a win in return – I’ll see what I can do!”

New for this year the teams are all based in heart of Llandudno creating a real motor sport festival atmosphere in the resort… as well as generating substantial economic benefit to those in the vicinity.

After a high-profile Ceremonial Start outside the Three Graces on Liverpool’s historic Pier Head on Thursday afternoon, the first of 22 competitive speed tests – all run against-the-clock – is staged under the floodlights at the Oulton Park race circuit near Chester later that evening.

Three days in the famous Welsh forests follow swiftly thereafter with the battle-weary winners crowned back in Llandudno on Sunday.

For those not ready to venture out to catch the cars and stars in their natural habitat flying through the great Welsh outdoors, there’s the less extreme option of a family-friendly Saturday evening test on Colwyn Bay’s recently refurbished promenade.

Adult tickets cost just £15 if purchased in advance (£20 on the gate) and accompanied children aged 15 and under are offered free admission. Preparing visitors for the awesome wheel-spinning WRC thrills to come after sunset, the day also includes supercar and classic rally car displays plus eye-catching stunt displays in the skies above the bay courtesy of the world famous Red Bull Matador Aerobatic Team. It’s not to be missed!  n

While entry to the Ceremonial Start in Liverpool and Service Park in Llandudno is totally free of charge, a wide selection of tickets for all 22 competitive special stages are still on sale. Full details can be found at

www.walesrallygb.com

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