This is it: the fourteenth and final round of the FIA World Rally Championship. As well as the traditional drama of the treacherous Welsh forests the event will represent the last chance for British fans to see Colin McRae attack his home event in a Ford Focus.

Although both the FIA World Championship for Manufacturers and Drivers were settled at Rally New Zealand, the FIA Junior Car World Championship will be decided in the Welsh woods.

But back to the WRC championship, and no fewer than six drivers can mathematically finish the season as runner-up driver, while all three smaller World Championship teams, Mitsubishi, Hyundai and Skoda, start the rally equal on points.

News from the Teams:

Team Peugeot Total - Manufacturers champions:

Richard Burns (car no. 1), Marcus Gronholm (car no. 2) and Harri Rovanpera (car no. 3).

Marcus Gronholm will be gunning for a record attempt - a perhaps unique chance to equal the number of wins in the same season, while Peugeot also have a record to pursue - the current record number of wins in the World Championship in a season for a manufacturer is nine for Lancia in 1987. So far this year Peugeot have won eight.

''I would have won six [rallies] already but for a servicing problem which affected another member of our team in Argentina...'' pointed out Gronholm.

The new World Champion is the only foreigner to have won a full World Championship Rally Great Britain since 1993.

In the Rovanpera camp, co-driver Risto Pietilainen is expected to make a comeback after missing five rounds of the series with his brother in law. Risto fell ill just before Neste Rally Finland, and Voitto Silander has stood in for him since then.

Ford Motor Company - 2nd 94 points:

Carlos Sainz (car no. 4), Colin McRae (car no 5), Markko Martin (car no. 6) Ford and non nominated entry for Mark Higgins (car no. 24).

Rally GB will be the final event for McRae, but Ford will have little time to dwell on the Scotsman final appearance as in addition to the four official cars, M-Sport are responsible for running no fewer than five Focus World Rally Cars for independent team drivers.

The event will be Higgins' second drive for the Ford World Rally Championship team, but he also won the 2002 national championship Pirelli Rally in a borrowed works Focus.

Three times Rally Great Britain winner and the World Championship's most successful driver McRae is ready for the worst Wales can throw at him

''The main thing about the Network Q Rally is the weather,'' he began. ''You really do not know what to expect, anything from dust to ice and snow. There is no other rally in the World Championship where you can expect such extremes before the event, but once the event starts the prevailing conditions normally continue through the event. Most years it is wet and cold with a lot of muddy stretches.

''The route is very fast, which makes it very tricky when you come up to muddy sections unexpectedly,'' he warned. ''This is the event on which gravel note crews really earn their money.''

Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart - 5th 9 points:

Francois Delecour (car no. 7) and Jani Paasonen (car no. 9).

Mitsubishi will again be without Alister McRae, following his pre-Sanremo Rally mountain bike accident, while Dominique Savignoni will replace the injured Daniel Grataloup on this event.

Savignoni was Delecour's co-driver in the 1999 Monte Carlo Rally when they finished 4th, and since then has regularly worked as his gravel crew. This will be the final appearance of the Mitsubishi Ralliart cars in Marlboro colours.

555 Subaru World Rally Team - 3rd 54 points:

Tommi Makinen (car no. 10) and Petter Solberg (car no. 11).

The Prodrive run outfit will be on home ground at Rally GB and eager to impress - as will drivers Solberg and Makinen. The Norwegian is still looking for his first WRC victory - and where better than in front of the Subaru faithful, while Makinen would love to send of 02 the way it started in Monte Carlo - with victory.

Team Principal David Lapworth: ''For Subaru the Network Q is home ground. We have won the event five times in the last eight years. Our car is what gives the drivers an advantage! Our opposition will be the effects of the weather. The weather in Wales can change dramatically in the space of only a few weeks.''

Skoda Motorsport - 4th 9 points:

Kenneth Eriksson (car no. 14) and Toni Gardemeister (car no. 15) and Roman Kresta (car no. 16).

Skoda hopes to continue the legend of the company's remarkable successes in past years, when over the space of 26 years the team won their class on the event 24 times.

The event will be the last planned rally with Skoda for veteran Kenneth Eriksson, while by contrast Kresta will have a new co-driver in the shape of Milos Hulka, who has been previously been seen on seven World Rallies in 2 wheel drive days with Emil Triner.

Hyundai Castrol World Rally Team - 6th 9 points:

Armin Schwarz (car no. 17), Freddy Loix (car no. 18) and Juha Kankkunen (car no. 19).

Hyundai and their MST run crew will be home away from home at Rally GB, and are eager to build on Loix's superb pace in Australia - but still face reliability worries.

Team Manager Nmark Busfield: ''The team were tremendously elated by Freddy Loix's fastest time at the start of Rally Australia. It created a fantastic spirit within the team. The spark plug problem suffered later by Juha Kankkunen was different to the plug troubles we have suffered before, and we don't yet know if this caused the retirement for Juha and Armin Schwarz.''

Automobiles Citroen - not eligible for points in 2002:
Thomas Radstrom (car no. 20) and Sebastien Loeb (car no. 21).

It was a late decision by Citroen to enter this event as an official team, but is all part of their plan to amass as much hands-on experience of individual events as possible this year, ready for a full championship attack in 2003.

Altogether they have been represented on 11 of the 14 events in 2002, either directly or through their Spanish partners Piedrafita. Rally GB is expected to be the final appearance in the team for co-driver Denis Giraudet before he moves to Skoda to join Didier Auriol.

News from the Junior World Rally Championship:

The final round of the Championship sees two drivers able to win the title, Andrea Dallavilla from Italy and Daniel Sola from Spain. Andrea leads Daniel by one point, while if it comes to a tie-decider Daniel so far has two wins against one for Andrea.

Dallavilla's co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini: ''It's now or never for us! Andrea will be too old for the Junior World Rally Championship in the future...''

Sola's codriver Alex Romani believes they have the edge: ''We reckon we have the psychological advantage over Andrea... Coming up from behind is always best!''

Citroen's customer department chief Jean-Francois Lienere added: ''Our cars are already assured of a 1-2 placing in the series. We now hope that Janne Tuohino will finish the series in third position as well.''

This will be the final Junior World Rally Championship entry for 42 year old veteran Gwyndaf Evans because new minimum age rules apply in 2003. Evans' recent suspension development work will help MG 's official entry in a second S1600 car for Blundell.

Other Top Runners in Britain:

Special guest competitor on the event will be four times world motorcycle champion Valentino Rossi, who drives a Peugeot 206WRC with support from Michelin and run by HF Grifone. To honour his success on the track the organisers have awarded him his cherished competition number 46.

Another personality entry is a MG ZR Super 1600 car for the former Formula One driver Mark Blundell.

In the works supported category, Peugeot for Gilles Panizzi and Juuso Pykalisto have been prepared by Bozian Racing, while Polish driver Tomasz Kuchar will be the only driver on the event to have used the same car two weeks ago in Australia. "I am expecting this will be my final rally with a Toyota," he confessed.

Otherwise there are fewer non-works foreign drivers than usual on this event. The 17 year old Jari Matti Latvala enters his first World Rally after several entries on British championship events. He rallies in Britain because he is too young to drive on the roads in his native Finland! Latvala's mentor is Pentti Airikkala, RAC Rally winner in 1989.

Other major career steps forward on this event come for Justin Dale, David Higgins and Mikko Hirvonen, all of whom drive their first important rallies in World Rally Cars, in Subarus run respectively by Prodrive, 22 Motorsport and World Rally Hire.

David is running a '99 spec car: ''Judging by the weather we have had in our region, I think the rally will be wet, foggy and muddy, who wants the latest spec car in those conditions?!''

David won Group N on last year's Rally Great Britain.

Alister Ginley is also driving a World Rally Car for the first time on a major rally, this time a Focus from M-Sport.

Before the start, cars will be on display at St Mary's Street in Cardiff. From there the first car will proceed to the start ramp nearby, progressively triggering off sensors which will then light up Cardiff's seasonal illuminations.