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Wales Rally GB15 Countdown A– Legendary Welsh forests await Wales Rally GB stars
– Triple World Champion tops full capacity 160-car entry
– Elfyn Evans and Kris Meeke target victory on home soil
– RallyFest stage provides all-day family entertainment

The legendary Welsh forests are ready to welcome a capacity and star-studded 160-car entry into Wales Rally GB, the 13th and final round of the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship.

Building on the huge success of recent years’ events, this season’s spectacular features a fan-friendly three-day route. It comprises 19 competitive special stage speed tests – totalling 193 miles – all run against the clock on a challenging mix of traditional gravel forest tracks and parkland roads.

After a dazzling Opening Ceremony on Mostyn Street, Llandudno on Thursday evening, the intrepid crews face a marathon leg in mid-Wales on Friday. The weekend’s action is closer to the Deeside Service Park and includes the popular RallyFest at Chirk Castle and the return of the iconic Great Orme on Sunday. The winners will be crowned in front of the teams and fans back in the Deeside rally hub on Sunday afternoon.

Heading the entry list is 2013, 2014 and 2015 World Champion, Sébastien Ogier. Having just clinched a hat-trick of titles, the gifted 31-year-old Frenchman will be the one to beat on an event he has won for the past two years. Ogier, though, isn’t the only past winner targeting further success. His Volkswagen Motorsport team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala has also lifted the coveted Peall Trophy and, with no team orders, is sure to provide stiff opposition.

No British driver has won the event since the late Richard Burns completed a hat-trick of triumphs back in 2000 but, with Elfyn Evans and Kris Meeke among this season’s front-runners, another famous home victory may not be that far away. Meeke won in Argentina and Evans finished second more recently in Corsica.

Adding to the competition, Hyundai Motorsport is fielding a four-car entry and is locked in a battle with Meeke’s Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT outfit for second place behind the all-conquering VW Motorsport in the Manufacturers’ Championship. Ex-F1 star Robert Kubica is another to watch.

Following the huge popularity of recent events in north Wales, every effort has been made to increase car parking capacity and improve the spectator experience in advance of next week’s season finale. Once again, the event will boast its own dedicated Wales Rally FM radio station on 87.7FM as well as big screen television coverage – anchored by Steve Rider – with live action at key locations.

“The excitement is really building towards next week’s event,” confirmed Ben Taylor, Managing Director of Wales Rally GB. “We’ve got 19 of the finest rally stages in the world, a capacity entry list featuring the world’s best drivers and a huge crowd anticipated.

“Better yet, we have genuine hopes of a strong British result, after Kris and Elfyn’s performances this year. We’ll also be inducting Petter Solberg into the ‘Hall of Fame’ and celebrating the 20th anniversary of Colin McRae’s WRC title triumph. It all adds up to an utterly unmissable world championship event.”

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates, said: “The Wales Rally GB is a world-class event and I hope this year’s event will be even bigger and better than ever. Wales Rally GB has developed a strong profile on the World Rally Championship calendar, demonstrating Wales’ ability to deliver a wide range of major events. The rally provides an ideal platform to showcase Wales’ many assets, including our spectacular scenery.

“The organisers have worked to widen the appeal of this sport, with developments such as the RallyFest stages proving invaluable in reaching beyond the motor sport enthusiast. We look forward to an action packed weekend.”

The majority of the special stage action takes place in the spectacular Welsh forests which are managed by Natural Resources Wales, who provide an invaluable service to the event every year.

Emyr Roberts, Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales, said: “More than 90 per cent of this year’s rally is staged on forest roads we manage. Welsh forests are an important part of our economy and environment. Preparing the roads and safe spectator areas has taken us many months – this is a beautiful backdrop for the teams to compete at the highest level.”

BIGGEST BRITISH CHALLENGE FOR MORE THAN A DECADE

Not since the heady days of Colin McRae and Richard Burns have British fans had so much to celebrate at their home round of the World Rally Championship.

With Kris Meeke becoming the first British driver since Colin McRae in 2002 to win a WRC round earlier this season and Elfyn Evans scoring a career-high second place in Corsica, there are two homegrown stars in the hunt for glory. Since joining Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT at the start of last season, Meeke has notched up six podiums and taken the fight to Ogier on many occasions.

“I love these stages,” enthused the 36-year-old Ulsterman. “They’re definitely some of the best in the world. But it’s not just the roads, it’s everything that goes with them: the smell of the mud on the exhaust, the sight of the mist hanging over the hills in the morning – it’s a beautiful place to be, and the only place to be for a rally fan in November.

“Of course I would absolutely love to win but we have to be realistic. To try and win it against these Volkswagen boys will be difficult but if something happens to them… Either way I want to try to get on the podium. We were running second last year, but then got caught out in the Brenig stage on the final morning. There’s a wee bit of unfinished business there…”

Wales Rally GB15 Countdown BEvans is a local hero in his native north Wales, and the 26-year-old from Dolgellau has been groomed for future stardom by his Cumbria-based M-Sport team, underlining his potential with two podiums already this season. Last year, he sent the fans home happy by finishing a fine fifth in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC – now he’s aiming a bit higher.

“I would obviously love to score my third WRC podium in Wales,” he admitted. “Given the calibre of the opposition out there, it will be no mean feat, but I can promise you we will be giving it our all and that’s what we are aiming for.

“The stages are fantastic. Everywhere else in the world we go, when there is rain and mud, there is practically no grip – but here that never seems to be a problem, meaning you can settle into a good rhythm and really attack the event and enjoy the whole experience.”

While Meeke and Evans will spearhead the home guard, there’s plenty of other British talent on show. Welsh-based Manxman David Higgins will make a welcome return behind the wheel of a Subaru Impreza in tribute to Colin McRae, while rising young stars Tom Cave, David Bogie, Chris Ingram, Johnny Greer and Gus Greensmith will all feature in the International event.

RALLYFEST PROVIDES FUN FOR ALL THE FAMILY

Providing a full day’s high-octane entertainment for those who would rather not venture into the forests, RallyFests have been an instant success, particularly with the family audience – so it’s no surprise that one features on this year’s bill at Chirk Castle.

Indeed, such was the popularity of the first action-packed RallyFest at Chirk that car parking and spectator areas were massively increased for 2014 and a special traffic management system introduced. These all worked as planned last November and are again in place this year.Wales Rally GB15 Countdown C

Enhanced facilities include live commentary, a big screen, children’s fairground rides, trade stands, historic rally car parades, catering plus a mouth-watering array of special displays. The Red Bull Matadors will be performing in the skies above the medieval fortress while stars from SuperMoto and Guinness World Record stunt driver Terry Grant will be wowing fans back on earth.

The action starts from 9:45am with the Network Q WRGB National competitors. After that, the entertainment begins at 11.45, before the WRC stars and cars arrive early in the afternoon. Advance adult tickets are priced at £25, while specially priced family tickets are available for just £45.

FREE OPPORTUNITIES TO SEE THE WRC

While access to all 19 special stages is ticketed, there are several great opportunities for the public to savour the presence of the World Rally Championship in north Wales absolutely free.

Visitors are welcome to come to the packed Service Park in Deeside on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and, for the first time, Sunday. Here they will not only see all 160 cars being prepared for action but will also be treated to some impressive entertainment including live bands, funfair rides, 4×4 driving, a zip-wire, a special Colin McRae tribute, stunt shows and on Saturday evening a fireworks display.

Entrance to the Opening Ceremony in Llandudno and the Ceremonial Finish in the Service Park are free of charge, as is admission to the final Regroup in Llandudno on Sunday morning. For those in mid Wales, Newtown offers a giant screen to watch the action and the chance to see the rally cars and stars up close in the town on Friday morning.

MCRAE HEADS NETWORK Q WRGB NATIONAL RALLY ENTRIES

The Network Q WRGB National Rally is an integral part of the WRC show. Aimed at enthusiastic amateur crews keen to be part of the UK’s biggest rally festival, it follows the same route providing spectators with even more top class action.

As well as featuring some iconic rally cars from yesteryear including Subaru Imprezas, Mitsubishi Evos and large numbers of sideways Escorts, the National entry also showcases a few stars of its own.

As part of the celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of Colin McRae becoming Britain’s first World Rally Champion in 1995, his father Jimmy McRae is rolling back the years behind the wheel of an historic Vauxhall Firenza Can-Am. Last year’s victor Mike Faulkner is back, too, defending his title.

WALES RALLY GB

NETWORK Q WRGB NATIONAL RALLY*

Friday 13 November
08:15 Depart Service Park (Deeside)
11:12   Hafren (Stage 1)
11:55  Sweet Lamb (Stage 2)
12:12     Myherin (Stage 3)
15:31  1st car arrives in Service Park (Deeside)

Saturday 14 November
08:40   Depart Service Park (Deeside)
09:43  Chirk Castle (Stage 13)
11:38  Gartheiniog (Stage 9)
12:05  Dyfi (Stage 10)
13:53  Dyfnant (Stage 11)
14:51     Aberhirnant (Stage 12)
16:35  1st car arrives in Service Park (Deeside)

Sunday 15 November
09:15   Depart Service Park (Deeside)
10:40   Alwen (Stage 17)
12:08   Great Orme (Stage 18)
12:19  Llandudno Regroup
13:56  Brenig (Stage 19)
15:26 Ceremonial Finish – Deeside

* All times are for the first competitive car on the stage and are subject to change

HOME ENTERTAINMENT FOR WALES RALLY GB

Both live and post-produced shows will be screened on no fewer than three different TV channels within the UK.

BT Sport will air daily highlights plus live coverage of selected stages throughout the weekend, including Sunday’s concluding Brenig Power Stage.

ITV4 will be screening daily highlights while Welsh language station S4C’s dedicated motor sport programme Ralio+ will be broadcasting daily. Ralio+ will also be showing the Power Stage ‘as live’ later on Sunday afternoon.

GET YOUR TICKETS HERE!

All tickets are still available via the official http://www.walesrallygb.com website or ticket hotline on 0844 847 2251.

Tickets are selling fast, with large numbers taking advantage of the significant discounts on offer for those booking in advance.

Wales Rally GB15 Countdown DThe four-day World Rally Pass is the all-inclusive ticket for fans. It provides access to all the individual Special Stages as well as Thursday’s pre-event Shakedown. It is priced at £99 for adults (or just £1 for accompanied children aged 9-15) and comes with a desirable hard card and lanyard plus an event programme valued at £9.

Forest Passes offer a similar level of flexibility as the World Rally Pass but for individual days of the event. Again they include an official programme and can be purchased in advance for just £25. Tickets for the family-friendly RallyFest at Chirk Castle are available now for £25 with an even greater discount being offered to families.

On-the-day tickets will be available at all stages for £30, subject to availability.

Full ticket information can be found on the WalesRallyGB.com website.

For further updates, follow Wales Rally GB on Twitter @walesrallygb or join the conversations on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/walesrallygb

WALES RALLY GB

2015 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP – ROUND 13

Event Timetable*

Thursday 12 November
08:00  Official Shakedown – Clocaenog
17:00-17:30  Autograph session, Venue Cymru, Llandudno
18:00   Opening Ceremony
18:30  Ceremonial Start, Llandudno

Friday 13 November
06:30  Depart – Deeside
09:27  Hafren 1 (Stage 1)
10:10  Sweet Lamb 1 (Stage 2)
10:27  Myherin 1 (Stage 3)
11:56 Remote Service – Newtown (20 mins)
13:29  Hafren 2 (Stage 4)
14:12   Sweet Lamb 2 (Stage 5)
14:29  Myherin 2 (Stage 6)
17:48   Service – Deeside (45 mins)

Saturday 14 November
05:00 Service – Deeside (15 mins)
07:29  Gartheiniog 1 (Stage 7)
07:56   Dyfi 1 (Stage 8)
09:38   Gartheiniog 2 (Stage 9)
10:05  Dyfi 2 (Stage 10)
11:53   Dyfnant 1 (Stage 11)
12:51  Aberhirnant 1 (Stage 12)
14:31  Chirk Castle (Stage 13)
15:32     Service – Deeside (30 mins)
18:25   Dyfnant 2 (Stage 14)
19:23  Aberhirnant 2 (Stage 15)
21:07  Service – Deeside (45 mins)

Sunday 15 November
07:00  Service – Deeside (15 mins)
08:26  Brenig 1 (Stage 16)
08:52   Alwen (Stage 17)
10:20   Great Orme (Stage 18)
10:31  Regroup: Llandudno (25 mins)
12:08  Brenig 2 (Power Stage 19)
13:51   Ceremonial Finish – Deeside Service Park

* All times are for the first car and subject to change

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