‘Super Saturday’, with challenging special stages in the forests of Mid Wales, remains a centrepiece of this autumn’s Wales Rally GB, from October 3-6.
The rally has promised to be more accessible, more challenging and more exciting than ever before with major innovations adding yet more to one of the UK’s premier sporting events.
Round 12 of the prestigious 14-round 2019 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) celebrates its milestone 20th running since the international event moved to Wales at the start of the millennium.
A new base within the resort town of Llandudno has already been revealed along with a new family-friendly Saturday evening street stage set on the recently refurbished promenade of neighbouring Colwyn Bay.
Now a further raft of new developments has been announced with the unveiling of the full four-day draft competitive route for the 2019 Wales Rally GB and the sale of money-saving early bird tickets.
For the first time in recent history, Wales Rally GB will kick off with a showpiece Ceremonial Start on Liverpool’s iconic Waterfront, a world apart from the Welsh mountains and forests where most of the action is staged.
Another new addition follows swiftly with an early evening opening special stage set at Oulton Park, close to Chester.
Friday’s schedule switches to more familiar rallying heartlands in the forests of North and Mid Wales. Back by popular demand from both the public and competitors is a spectacular stage run in darkness through the Aberhirnant forest close to Bala in south east Snowdonia.
The day’s schedule features nine speed tests in the forests of the Snowdonia National Park set either side of a lunchtime return to the busy Service Park in Llandudno.
The day opens in the shadows of Mount Snowdon with classic stages in Elsi and Penmachno close to Betws-y-Coed and then heads south towards Welshpool for timed tests in the revered Dyfnant and Aberhirnant forests.
All four stages are repeated in the afternoon with the second run through Aberhirnant taking place well after sunset in total darkness – always a crowd pleaser. It will be the only true forest stage run after dark on this year’s WRC calendar.
Adding to the spectator experience, Friday afternoon’s programme also includes a revisit to the stage at Slate Mountain at The Slate Caverns near Blaenau Ffestiniog.
A gruelling ‘Super Saturday’ schedule will move the battleground to Mid Wales and the legendary forests of Dyfi, Myherin and Sweet Lamb Hafren. These well-established rally venues offer plenty of capacity for the large numbers of spectators now regularly drawn by the latest generation of WRC cars plus the prospect of escalating title battles between the top drivers and manufacturers and the presence of two proven British winners, Elfyn Evans and Kris Meeke.
The rally’s longest and most demanding day features three epic special stages, all set in the mountains to the east of Aberystwyth. As last year, Hafren has been extended to incorporate the Sweet Lamb rally complex, always a fans’ favourite with its jumps and water splash.
All three stages are tackled twice with the second run through Myherin being screened live for television audiences right around the world. A lunchtime regroup on the busy streets of central Newtown punctuates the action.
Following the frenetic action in the forests of Mid Wales, the WRC returns to Llandudno via an all-new Saturday evening spectator stage on Colwyn Bay promenade.
Sunday morning sees two more forest tests in North Wales, a dash around the iconic Great Orme peninsula and the ceremonial finish in Llandudno.
In its entirety, the refreshed 2019 route adds up to 22 stages totalling more than 320km (200 miles) of high-octane world championship competition like no other.
Visitors are once again offered a several free-to-view opportunities, including the colourful Regroup in central Newtown around mid-day on Saturday which provides fans with another chance to see the WRC stars and cars close-up at no financial cost.
As a further incentive to inspire the next generation of potential rally fans, all those aged under 16 continue to be provided with free general admittance to all 22 timed special stages when accompanied by an adult.
Early bird tickets are now on sale offering significant savings for those purchasing now. An adult Day Pass provides access to all stages on the selected day and, for all those taking advantage of the current early bird offer, costs £32 for Friday and Sunday and £35 for ‘Super Saturday’. Providing extra value for money, every ticket includes a free glossy programme priced at £9 and booking fees are included.
The early bird price of the premium four-day World Rally Pass, ensuring access to all 21 competitive special stages on Friday, Saturday and Sunday as well as Thursday’s pre-event Shakedown, is priced at £109.
Eluned Morgan, Welsh Government Minister for International Relations, said:
“Wales Rally GB has been a successful event for the past 17 years, hosted throughout mid, north and south Wales. The event has showcased Wales to the many thousands of visitors who have attended and the many millions who have watched the event broadcast around the world.”
Tim Jones, Natural Resources Wales’ executive director of operations for North and Mid Wales, said:
“It’s great to welcome Wales Rally GB again. Our forests in Wales have not only achieved almost legendary status in the world of rallying, but they also provide timber for the Welsh economy and fantastic places for people to get outside and enjoy the outdoors.”
Elfyn Evans, M-Sport Ford WRT and Wales Rally GB winner in 2017, said:
“The event itself will be a typical Wales Rally GB with some really long and demanding days. It’s a real challenge for the crews and I’m happy to see the return of some night stages, too.
“It’s part of the DNA of Wales Rally GB and we’re in for another really demanding event this year. As always, the stages look incredible. Wales has some of the best roads in the world, and I’m really looking forward to this year’s event.”