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Record international entry for Rally

Created on 05/10/2017 @ 10:52
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This month’s Dayinsure Wales Rally GB, which is set to power into Montgomeryshire later this month, will feature a star-studded line-up. 

Organiser, International Motor Sports, confirmed it has received a record number of entries from around the globe for the UK’s date on the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) calendar from October 26-29.

Entries for the penultimate round of this year’s WRC closed earlier this week, with a world-class field of 77 International cars representing 22 nations lining up to compete against-the-clock on the 21 gruelling special stages, all but two of which are set in the legendary Welsh forests.

It’s the biggest international field since the rally moved to a new base in North Wales in 2013 and is topped by no fewer than 14 of the new-era, more powerful WRC cars.

Crews are coming from as far afield as New Zealand, Japan, South Africa and Argentina to contest what is predicted to be one of the most exciting and challenging rallies in recent years.

With Wales celebrating its ‘Year of Legends’, the packed four-day schedule includes a new Thursday evening curtain-raiser at the Tir Prince Raceway in Conwy County and the welcome reintroduction of super-tricky night stages after sunset on Saturday.

It could also be the fiercest-fought in memory, as the first 10 rounds of the 2017 series have produced six different winners, meaning that the title race will still be raging when the teams arrive in the UK.

With three rounds remaining, Cumbrian-based M-Sport’s new recruit Sébastien Ogier tops the points table but he has Hyundai Motorsport star Thierry Neuville and fellow Fiesta ace Ott Tänak hot on his heels. All three were on the podium in Wales last year and are certain to be among this year’s pacesetters.

As well as targeting a fifth world title, Ogier is also gunning for a fifth Rally GB win – a feat no driver has achieved in the event’s 85-year history, let alone the five in succession, which the exceptional Frenchman is eyeing.

To rewrite the record books, Ogier will have to overcome the most competitive field yet. For the first time this season, Hyundai Motorsport is fielding four of its latest i20 Coupe WRCs for Neuville, Hayden Paddon, Danni Sordo and new signing Andreas Mikkelesen.

Back in the WRC for 2017, Toyota has entered a trio of Yaris WRCs for Jari-Matti Latvala, Juho Hänninen and young gun Esapekka Lappi. Latvala and Lappi are already among this year’s winners.

Citroën has also returned to the WRC fray with a factory-team and its three-pronged attack includes local hero Kris Meeke, Irishman Craig Breen and Khalid Al Qassimi from the United Arab Emirates.

Ulsterman Meeke won in Mexico in March and finished second in Wales two years ago. Both he and Dolgellau’s Elfyn Evans, who lines up in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC, are hoping to become the first home winner since Richard Burns last sprayed the champagne back in 2000.

Other notable entries include an encouraging number of British contenders in the R5 class. Among these are Callum Black, David Bogie, Tom Cave from Aberdyfi, Gus Greensmith, John MacCrone, Euan Thorburn, Matthew Wilson and Rhys Yates.

They will face stiff opposition from Skoda Motorsport duo Pontus Tidemand and Ole Christian Veiby as well as three of the sport’s most promising young guns: Jari Pekka Huttunen, Kalle Rovanperä and Max Vatanen.

Huttunen has just won a prize drive from Hyundai Motorsport, Rovanperä is making his WRC debut having just turned 17 while Vatanen is the son of 1981 World Champion Ari Vatanen.

Another legendary rally family name is on the entry list, too, with Jimmy McRae contesting the main event for the first time since 2004. The five-time British Rally champion and father of the late Colin McRae joins 2016 FIA 2WD European Rally champion Chris Ingram in a pair of Opel ADAMs supported by the ever-enthusiastic Network Q dealer group.

Alongside Ingram in the R2 category is Gee Atherton, with the multiple mountain-bike Downhill World Champion another of the stand-out Rally GB rookies.

Adding yet more diversity and interest, enthusiastic amateur crews with nationally-registered machinery have been allowed to join the main WRC event for the first time. As a result, the entry list boasts the return of much-loved Subaru Imprezas, Mitsubishi Lancer Evos plus a pair of Ford Escort Mk2s.

Entries for the accompanying WRGB National Rally, which shadows the main event, have also closed and, with more than 80 amateur crews eager to seek a once-in-a-lifetime experience to competing alongside the best drivers in the world, a full capacity 160-car entry is all set to provide some spectacular entertainment.

Fans wanting to catch the World Championship action can take advantage of significant savings when buying their tickets in advance. Adult ticket prices start at just £10 for the first stage at Tir Prince, £23 for the family-friendly RallyFest at Cholmondeley Castle, £28 for a day ticket or £99 for the full four-day event pass. All tickets (excluding Tir Prince) include free parking and an event programme priced at £9 and accompanied children aged under 16 are admitted free of charge.

Where to watch

Spectators in Mid Wales gets their first chance to see the rally on on Friday, October 27, with classic speed tests in the region’s legendary forests. The day’s schedule features three special stages, all set to the east of Aberystwyth. Myherin and Hafren are world-renowned as true classics while, with its jumps and water splashes, the shorter Sweet Lamb test is always a fans’ favourite.

All three stages are tackled twice, once either side of a lunchtime regroup on the busy streets of Newtown before the cars head back to service, stopping off en route in Chester to meet the fans.

The schedule for Saturday, October 28 is even longer and, concluding under the cloak of darkness, no less challenging. The morning’s itinerary takes the competitors to the famous forests of southern Snowdonia, just to the north of Machynlleth.

Gartheiniog and Dyfi are two more demanding stages that will push crews to their limits and provide fans with some outstanding viewing opportunities. Once again, the WRC teams will tackle both tests twice before heading east to the day’s fifth special stage in Dyfnant Forest in the periphery of the Cambrian Mountains en-route to the family-friendly RallyFest at Cholmondeley Castle.

After a service to fit lights, Saturday’s hectic timetable concludes with two stages held in darkness. The first is a return to the Dyfnant section run earlier in the day, the second a one-off sprint through the superfast Aberhirnant Forest, close to Bala.  Sunday’s concluding day is set entirely in North Wales.

Full details of the 2017 Dayinsure Wales Rally GB including route, timetable and ticket information can be found on the official website.


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