RALLY GB RE­TURNS TO ENG­LAND

Chol­monde­ley Cas­tle stage sig­nals first foray into Eng­land since 2001

Motor Sport News - - Headline News - By David Evans

In a route re­vealed by Mo­tor­sport News, Bri­tain’s round of the World Rally Cham­pi­onship in­cludes a spe­cial stage out­side Wales for the first time in 17 years this sea­son.

As part of a new three-year agree­ment with the Welsh Govern­ment, event or­gan­is­ers negotiated the po­ten­tial for ex­pand­ing the route be­yond the bor­der and into Eng­land.

The Chol­monde­ley Cas­tle stage on the sec­ond day of the Oc­to­ber 27-30 rally is the first WRC com­pe­ti­tion to the east of Offa’s Dyke since the sec­ond run­ning of the Chel­tenham race­course stage on Sun­day Novem­ber 21, 1999.

The head­line changes to the route are the in­clu­sion of Pant­perthog for the first time since 1997. The Great Orme won’t be used and Chol­monde­ley re­places Chirk as the ‘Ral­lyfest’ stage. While the route has been sanc­tioned by the FIA, there is still talk of one more change, the in­clu­sion of a non-com­pet­i­tive el­e­ment in Ch­ester. Ch­ester’s an ob­vi­ous place for Rally GB to cross the bor­der, given it’s only five miles from the ser­vice park and has such a rich ral­ly­ing his­tory.

This year’s Rally GB will be the long­est in terms of com­pet­i­tive mileage since 2011, with crews fac­ing 208.75 miles across 22 stages. It won’t, how­ever, in­clude any night stages – the ma­jor­ity of the event runs in Bri­tish Sum­mer Time, be­fore the clocks go back on the fi­nal morn­ing.

The Dee­side ser­vice park will only be used on Fri­day and Satur­day evening, with no mid-day ser­vice on any days this year. The lack of lunchtime ser­vice is linked to the FIA’S 25 per cent rule which states at least a quar­ter of the to­tal route has to be com­pet­i­tive – some­thing Rally GB hasn’t been able to achieve in re­cent years, with long li­ai­son sec­tions to and from the stages. With more pres­sure than ever on cal­en­dar slots, ral­lies are in­creas­ingly keen to toe the line with the FIA and WRC Pro­moter.

Route co-or­di­na­tor An­drew Kel­litt said: “The [25 per cent] rule was quite a big ask, but the way to do it was to go out to an area and stay there, ex­tract­ing the max­i­mum pos­si­ble mileage be­fore com­ing back to ser­vice.

“There’s noth­ing new with Fri­day, we haven’t had a mid-day ser­vice for a while now. Satur­day’s dif­fer­ent, but I don’t think we’re go­ing to be putting any stress on the tyres to run this dis­tance.

“It’s the same with Pant­perthog on Satur­day and Clo­caenog on Sun­day: we’re driv­ing past these

fan­tas­tic roads, so why not use them?”

The start and fin­ish venues have been changed from last year, with the Thurs­day night open­ing cer­e­mony mov­ing back to its 2014 lo­ca­tion, Eirias Park in Col­wyn Bay. The fin­ish is re­turned to Llan­dudno af­ter run­ning it in the ser­vice park was felt too cramped last year.

Re­turn­ing the fin­ish to Llan­dudno made the use of the Great Orme stage dif­fi­cult. Kel­litt added: “It’s a long way to bring the car up from the forests to the Great Orme and it’s not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the rally, so we don’t want to run it as the pow­er­stage. Also, it’s also not ideal hav­ing the cars come off a stage and straight to the [fin­ish] podium.

“I’m happy with the route. We set out with the ob­jec­tive of fall­ing in line with the FIA’S 25 per cent rule and we’ve done that with some great roads.”

This year’s event will be known as the Dayin­sure Wales Rally GB, af­ter the in­sur­ance firm agreed to ti­tle spon­sor­ship.

Long­est GB since 2011

Pant­perthog Stage hasn’t ran in GB since 1997 Burns won 1999 event; the last to visit Eng­land

Great Orme won’t run on GB in 2016

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