Next month’s Wales Rally GB (3-6 October) has attracted a star-studded line-up after organiser, Motorsport UK, confirmed it has received a world class entry from right around the globe for the UK’s eagerly awaited annual date on the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) calendar.
Entries for round 12 of this year’s 14-round WRC closed late last week, with an outstanding field of 59 International crews representing no fewer 24 nations revving up to compete against-the-clock on an exciting new-look route starting in Liverpool and featuring 22 gruelling special stages the majority of which are set in the legendary Welsh forests.
The 2019 entry list is topped by four former winners: reigning world champion Sébastien Ogier (FRA), Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN), Elfyn Evans (GBR) and Petter Solberg (NOR).
Ogier took a record fifth Wales Rally GB win 12 months ago, Latvala won in 2011 and 2012, local hero Evans made his own history when winning in 2017 while the ebullient Solberg, a four-time winner between 2002 and 2005, is making an emotional farewell on event he adores. To mark the special occasion, Petter is joined on the entry list by his older brother Henning and 18-year-old son Oliver, one of the sport’s hottest prospects.
Adding to the excitement all the major protagonists are split between the four major manufacturer teams guaranteeing fierce competition amongst the pace-setters. All four teams are fielding the latest generation of World Rally Cars, the fastest machines ever unleashed in the forests.
Ogier now finds himself in a Citroën C3 WRC together with team-mate Esapekka Lappi (FIN); Latvala lines up alongside the hard-charging Kris Meeke (GBR) and current series leader Ott Tänak (EST) in a trio of Toyota Yaris WRCs while Evans returns in one of three M-Sport run Ford Fiesta WRCs after missing the previous three rounds due to a back injury.
Although Hyundai doesn’t boast a previous event winner, its three-car entry of i20 Coupes is equally competitive with Thierry Neuville (BEL), Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) and Irish ace Craig Breen all armed with rally-winning i20 Coupes.
Fuelling the excitement, with both Meeke and Evans among the WRC’s big guns, hopes of a home victory have rarely been stronger.
All three Solbergs are among those rallying slightly less extreme WRC2 class cars – Petter and Oliver are armed with Volkswagen Polo R5s and Henning with a Skoda Fabia R5. The competition for category honours, though, will be every bit as fiercely fought as the battle for outright WRC honours. Once again, both local and international crews will be to the fore.
British Rally Championship front-runners Matt Edwards and Tom Cave (both Hyundai i20 R5s) and WRC2 regular Gus Greensmith (Ford Fiesta R5) will be hoping for home advantage but they face stiff opposition from the likes of experienced Norwegian Mads Østberg (Citroën C3 R5), Czech ace Jan Kopecky (Skoda Fabia R5), Finnish young gun Kalle Rovanperrä (Skoda Fabia R5) and New Zealander Hayden Paddon (Ford Fiesta R5).
Look out, too, for Josh McErlean who won his Hyundai i20 R5s prize drive as winner of this year’s Junior British Rally Championship.
Eleven more young stars of the future will be contesting the final round of the tightly packed FIA Junior WRC. This time Tom Williams represents Britain, but the title-decider is between a pair of Swedish and Spanish speeders: Tom Kristensson and Jan Solans. Past winners of the coveted JWRC crown include Ogier, Breen and Evans.
While entry to the Ceremonial Start in Liverpool and Service Park in Llandudno is totally free of charge, a wide selection of tickets for the 22 competitive special stages are still on sale with prices starting at just £15 for the Saturday evening speed test in Colwyn Bay. Full details can be found on the official www.walesrallygb.com website.
To view this years entry list, please click here.
Classic & Sports Finance are excited to announce they will be hosting another exclusive event this month alongside Motor Sport Magazine with Gordon Murray! Read more
The second running of the Watergate Bay Speed Hillclimb near Newquay in Cornwall was hailed as the “best yet” by fans, competitors and organisers as over 90 cars blasted up the B3276 coast road last weekend. Read more
Glorious weekend for British motorsport! Read more
This year’s Rallyday will deliver unparalleled levels of World Rally Championship history, with cars coming from around the world coming to celebrate the 6R4s 35th anniversary at Castle Combe Circuit on September 21. Read more
Watergate Bay Speed Hill Climb takes place this weekend (14/15 September) as the headline event of Cornwall Motorsport Month. Read more
Entries are open for the 2019 JLT Motorsport UK Club and Volunteer of the Year awards, designed to recognise excellence across the entire volunteer workforce. Read more
Welsh crew Osian Pryce and co-driver Dale Furniss made history yesterday (Sunday 8 September) when they won the first ever stage rally held on closed public roads in Wales, the Get Connected Rali Bae Ceredigion. They took the lead on stage two and, a... Read more