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The 12th round of the 2019 WRC is Wales Rally GB (3-6 October), Britain’s round of the series, which this year celebrates the event’s 75th anniversary. The current format of the event, concentrating on competition in forest stages in north and central Wales remains, but it was decided to move the base of the rally from Deeside further into North Wales to Llandudno. The initial event planning was carried out in uncertain times when the future of the Welsh patronage and the future status of the event in the WRC were uncertain, and it was decided to start the event in England for the first time since 1999, across the Mersey estuary in Liverpool. After the start there is a 70km drive further into England for the first stage, which will be run in darkness at the otherwise picturesque Oulton Park circuit, before a 100km road section back to Llandudno. The rest of the event stays in Wales. Again very limited use is made of the recent legislation allowing rallying to close public roads in Britain. This year’s event is being held at the same time of year as last year and again two rounds from the end of the championship, and currently longer range forecasts say mild conditions are anticipated. The WRC teams are offered the usual medium compound tyres or unusually the option of special soft compound tyres. Main challenge for the those teams which will run the same cars as in Turkey is the short period for preparation for teams, eased in the case of M-Sport who have a brand new car for Elfyn Evans. Evans is making his return to the WRC after his back injury in July.
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Elfyn Evans is a past Wales Rally GB winner for Ford and M-Sp0rt.

Also unusually, there is a scheduled quarter-hour service halt in the Sunday morning before the final two stages. The WRC teams’ service park is split up into scattered car park locations stretching 500 metres along the back streets of Llandudno, and not in one centralised area. Last year the celebrated tarmac stage at Great Orme was extended into Llandudno itself, using new British legal powers to close public roads for special stages, but this year the route for this stage is limited to the private road around the promontory itself. This year these powers are only used to close certain stretches of road in the Penmachno stage, and also in a new night time seafront spectator stage at Colwyn Bay on the Saturday evening. There is to be an anniversary presentation of old rally cars on the Thursday at Oulton Park, sponsored by Autocar magazine and to coincide with a book called “The Great British Rally”. This contains stories and images from all the previous 74 rallies. It is being published by Veloce Publishing *. Entry details produced few surprises. There are 59 crews including 11 Junior WRC competitors (including three drivers from the USA) and five WRC2 Pro entries, including for the first time Hayden Paddon in a Ford. Paddon has never rallied an R5 in a WRC event before. Another 64 entries in the supporting non-championship WRGB National Rally have been received. These crews will contest eight stages over the Friday and Saturday. Among the confirmed WRC event entries is Ulster driver Josh McErlean, who won his Hyundai i20 R5’s prize drive as winner of this year’s Junior British Rally Championship. This will be the final round of the FIA’s 2019 Junior World Rally Championship, for which double points will be issued among the regular competitors. Leading R5 entries in the non-championship categories in the main WRC event are Nikolay Gryazin, Takamoto Katsuta, and the new British champion Matt Edwards, while the 2014 and 2015 FIA Codasur champion, Diego Dominguez from Paraguay, is in a Fiesta R2. An exciting prospect is the entry of father and son (Petter and Oliver) Solberg in VW R5 cars, starting at 54 and 55, billed as the last planned head-to-head battle between these two. In the World Drivers Championship, Tanak, Ogier and Neuville are racing away from the other drivers, only those three can be champion this year. All three well ahead of the rest, headed by Andreas Mikkelsen. Only 22 points lie between fourth and tenth positions. In the Manufacturers’ series Hyundai are 19 points in front of Toyota.
  • STILL TO COME: Wales Rally GB team-by-team news
*Note: ISBN reference number is 978-1-787113-68-8, authors Graham Robson and Martin Holmes.
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