Next month’s Wales Rally GB (13-16 November) will feature a maximum 160-car field after organiser, International Motor Sports, confirmed it had received a substantially over-subscribed number of entries for the first time in many years. Entries for the International rally closed last week with no fewer than 72 teams representing 26 nations lining up to face the 23 challenging special stages run against the clock in the legendary Welsh forests.
These will be complemented by 88 crews contesting the National event, which provides amateurs with the chance to tackle the same timed sections immediately after their WRC counterparts. In total, 105 entries have been received for Wales Rally GB National – these have been accepted on a first come first served basis with those not currently successful being placed on a Reserve list.
“This is great news on many levels,” enthused Ben Taylor, Managing Director of Wales Rally GB. “We set out to create a great sporting spectacle and a fitting finale to the FIA World Rally Championship – to have this full-capacity entry is a major component in achieving those two goals. It underlines the event’s massive appeal both at home and abroad, but it’s also fantastic news for the fans who will be treated to some truly memorable top class action.”
The regular WRC teams top the International entries. These include Volkswagen Motorsport’s reigning World Rally Champion and last year’s Wales Rally GB winner, Sébastien Ogier, plus the two top home hopes: Elfyn Evans, lining up for the Cumbrian-based M-Sport World Rally Team, and Kris Meeke, representing Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT.
Other notables targeting success in Wales are Rallye Germany winner Thierry Neuville, spearheading Hyundai Motorsport’s exciting new three-car team, and former F1 star Robert Kubica (RK M-Sport World Rally Team).
There’s plenty of additional British interest, too. Matthew Wilson makes a welcome return in another of the M-Sport run Ford Fiestas but will face a stern test in the ultra competitive WRC2 category from multiple Scottish Rally Champion David Bogie, and two promising young Welsh pretenders: Tom Cave and Osian Pryce.
Wales Rally GB National is not without its own stars, with Jimmy McRae ensuring that Britain’s most famous rallying family is back on the entry list; the five-time British Rally Champion is turning back the clock behind the wheel of an historic Vauxhall Firenza. There are plenty of other crowd-pleasing classic rally cars as well including Steve Perez’s wonderful Lancia Stratos, Stuart Larbey’s great sounding MG Metro 6R4 as well as numerous Ford Escort RS1600s, Subaru Imprezas and Mistubishi Evolutions.
There’s also a significant rallying rookie among the National ranks. BT Sport presenter and former England cricketer Graeme Swann will be searching for rather less spin on the hallowed forest tracks than he looked for on the test pitches at Lords!
With a sell-out and star-studded entry, this year’s Wales Rally GB is not to be missed. A comprehensive ‘Rally Planner’ guide for spectators can be found on-line via the official www.walesrallygb.com website which also has full ticketing information. Tickets are also available via the ticket hotline on 0844 847 2251.