The countdown to Britain's round of the FIA World Rally Championship is gathering momentum as event organisers are now accepting entries for the 66th edition of Wales Rally GB.
This year's event, which will run from 11th-14th November, has a new look and dimension with the introduction of a National Rally, the first-ever running of a timed special stage over the barrage in Cardiff Bay, plus the return – after 11 years – to the high-speed Radnor Forest stage near Presteigne in Powys.
“2010 will mark the 38th year of Wales Rally GB's unbroken inclusion as a qualifying round of the FIA World Rally Championship calendar,” read a statement to the media. “We have invested both thought and effort into planning an event which offers both WRC and amateur rally drivers a challenging and thrilling competition on some of the most renowned special stages in the world.
“The National Rally [running over Saturday and Sunday] is open to both modern and historic cars, and allows drivers with limited budgets to enjoy the privilege of competing in one of Britain's biggest motorsport events.”
Highlights of the 215 competitive miles over three days include a longer 25.1km Crychan stage – a combination of Forestry Commission and closed military roads on Mynydd Epynt – near Llandovery and nearby a new mixed-surface 10.14km special stage titled 'Monument Hill'. This special stage is named in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the very first timed special stage to be run in Britain on the 1960 RAC Rally – the forerunner of today's Rally GB.
Also new for 2010 is the Cardiff Bay special stage, run twice – on the evenings of Thursday 11th and Saturday 13th November – over the coastal barrage, one of the largest civil engineering projects in Europe during its construction in the 1990s which now links Queen Alexandra Dock and Penarth Head. This timed-test of speed and driver skill will allow fans and families to soak-up the rally action in this newly regenerated and vibrant part of Cardiff.
“We're proud to say that this year's event offers something for everyone, from WRC star drivers through to historic rally enthusiasts looking to compete on world-class gravel stages,” said Andrew Coe, chief executive of event organiser International Motor Sports Ltd.
“Classic stages such as Crychan, Resolfen and Radnor Forest, alongside the inaugural Cardiff Bay stage offer the perfect mix of old and new. Interest in the event has already exceeded expectations and we all look forward to seeing the entry list in full and waving off drivers in Cardiff on Thursday 11th November.”
Welsh-born Tom Cave, the youngest-ever entrant and class winner on WRGB, is about to embark on the rally for the third time: “My plan is to be in Cardiff with a four-wheel drive car this year,” he revealed. “I have been gaining all-wheel-drive experience in recent months and in July won the Bill Gwynne Coracle Stages Rally which was based in Sweet Lamb (Hafren) forest. This bodes well for November as we will be using these gravel roads again.
“I think the introduction of the National Rally is a great idea. It will intrigue both young drivers and many regular contenders in our national championships to compare their times against the world's best professional drivers. And it's a huge bonus for spectators too.
“There will be a lot more cars to see, many of them no longer eligible for international rallies but still very exciting to see in action – normally sideways! All in all it's a plus point for everyone involved.”