Wales Rally GB has moved forward in the schedule to be the penultimate event of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) season. A fast gravel event, the Wales Rally GB will take place this year over 22 stages and 332 kilometres of competitive distance, with a familiar route for drivers through the forests of mid and north Wales, and the central service park located in Deeside.
The first leg of the Rally Wales GB is the longest, with drivers covering 179 km or more than half the event’s total. After the ceremonial start in Colwyn Bay, there are four stages, each of which will be driven twice.
Whilst all these stages have been used in recent years, this time out they are all being driven in reversed direction. Two of the stages, Hafren and Sweet Lamb, have not been driven this way since 1995, whilst another, Myherin, never has. This will create a whole host of new challenges for drivers and make the role of co-drivers and their pace notes even more vital than usual.
The second leg will see drivers taking on yet more unfamiliar territory, with three stages not driven in this event since 1997 on the agenda. It will conclude with a parkland stage at Cholmondeley Castle, which sees the event cross the border into England for the first time since 1999.
The final leg will see teams head north, with a concluding Power Stage, which will be live on TV, formed with the picturesque Brenig again.
The challenge for drivers is not always so much the routes themselves, but the conditions which this event so often throws up. Wales is renowned for its wind and rain, but it is not unknown for the rally to throw up fog, snow, and ice as well. Obviously in such conditions grip is vital for drivers and with studded tyres banned at this rally – even in extreme winter conditions – all cars are likely to running on soft compound tyres.
Drivers also have to be cautious to avoid the logs which are piled close to the road through the event, while the absence of midday service on any of the three days this year, means consideration also has to be given to ensuring the car can make it to the end of the day.
With a number of other FABIA R5s taking part too, the Wales Rally GB promises to be one of the most captivating events of the year. And of course, you can keep up-to-date with all the action right here on the ŠKODA Motorsport blog.