Closed public roads in Great Britain will be used to host World Championship motor sport for the very first time this October in north Wales. The momentous milestone was confirmed today (Monday 30 April) with the announcement of an exciting, new-look competitive route for this year’s ground-breaking Dayinsure Wales Rally GB (4-7 October).
The recent introduction of landmark legislation allowing local authorities in England and Wales to suspend the Road Traffic Act for authorised motor sport events has allowed Britain’s round of the global WRC adventure to broaden its horizons.
Last year’s record-breaking event attracted more than 100,000 visitors and delivered £9.4m of economic benefit to Wales.
The huge crowds had much to celebrate, too, as they roared local hero Elfyn Evans to a famous victory – the first win in WRC history for a Welsh driver and the first for a British driver on Rally GB since way back in 2000. Evans was crowned in Llandudno and, fittingly, he was back in the town with the coveted gold Peall Trophy earlier this month, talking about this year’s revolutionary route.
As proved so popular last October, the action blasts off with a dazzling curtain-raiser under the spotlights at Tir Prince Raceway on Thursday evening.
Friday’s schedule switches to north Wales, with sections of closed road helping to create new challenges in the classic Brenig, Alwen and Penmachno forests. Friday also sees the introduction of a new double-header stage at Slate Mountain at The Slate Caverns, home to Zip World.
A gruelling ‘Super Saturday’ schedule will move the battle-ground to mid Wales and the legendary forests such as Myherin, Sweet Lamb, Hafren, Dyfi and Gartheiniog. These forests offer plenty of capacity for the large numbers of spectators that will be drawn by the latest generation of WRC cars and the presence of two proven British winners – Evans and Kris Meeke.
Sunday morning sees two forest tests in scenic Snowdonia – including Gwydir which will be the points-scoring Power Stage – before the thrilling finale on the streets of Llandudno. In Visit Wales’ ‘Year of the Sea’, the crews will race around the iconic Great Orme and then onto the closed streets of Llandudno. The flying finish will be on the resort’s famous seafront – and the 2018 winner will be crowned on the Promenade.
In its entirety, the 2018 route adds up to 23 stages totalling more than 323km (200 miles) of electrifying competition.
Retaining an air of familiarity to the much-changed format, all the WRC teams will be based at the popular Deeside Rally Village, located in the grounds of the Toyota UK engine manufacturing plant, where public admittance is free of charge.
Further enhancing the event’s significance and appeal, this year’s Dayinsure Wales Rally GB embraces the concluding two rounds of the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship, the UK’s premier rallying series.
A full range of tickets for the 2018 Dayinsure Wales Rally GB go on sale today (Monday 30 April), offering significant savings for those buying in advance.
Despite the event’s growing popularity, admission prices to all the forest stages remain as they were in 2017 and, once again, children aged under 16 enjoy free general admittance when accompanied by an adult.
What’s more, as in the past, the buzzing Deeside Rally Village – the event’s lively pits and paddock complex – continues to be another free-of-charge destination open to everyone.
Ben Taylor, Dayinsure Wales Rally GB Managing Director:
“We are so excited by this dramatic new look to the route and would to thank everyone involved for making it possible. Last year was amazing with Elfyn’s victory, but the new legislation has allowed us to really freshen up the event. We have a whole day in North Wales complete with a midday return to service, Super Saturday will be an epic battle and the whole things builds to a fabulous climax on Sunday with our first ever street stage. It’s going to be one to remember!”
Lord Elis Thomas, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport:
“Wales is home to some of the world’s most legendary rally stages. This new route is also a showcase of our fantastic Welsh landscapes and scenery with a spectacular finish along the coast during the Year of the Sea. We look forward to another successful event as some of the sport’s legendary drivers take on the challenges of the of the Wales Rally GB.”
Louise Emery, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Conwy County Borough Council:
“We’re thrilled to once again be Host County for this prestigious World Championship event. Even more so as the changes in the law by the Welsh Government is to the advantage of both visitors and competitors, so we’re very excited about this year’s itinerary. Developments highlight commitments within our Events Strategy 2018-2022, and the increased number of stages across our county further underlines that Conwy County is the right environment for great events.”
Dennis Ryan, Dayinsure Founder and Chairman:
“We are delighted to be continuing our title partnership of the Dayinsure Wales Rally GB for a third year, and are really looking forward to the return of the outstanding FIA World Rally Championship in October. With the debut of the latest generation of more powerful cars plus a home winner for the first time in nearly two decades, last year’s event will be hard to
top. This rally, however, has a remarkable recent history of building on its many successes and these exciting new plans for 2018 are sure to continue that upward trajectory.
“Indeed, temporary vehicle insurance is on a parallel path, with escalating awareness and growing numbers of consumers taking advantage of its simplicity and multifold benefits. Our on-going association with Wales Rally GB continues to provide us with the perfect platform to convey those messages to an ever-growing audience – that’s why Dayinsure is so pleased to be title partner to this world-class event.”
Elfyn Evans, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team and winner of the 2017 Dayinsure Wales Rally GB:
“Last year’s Wales Rally GB was really special for me – an event I’ll remember for a long time to come. This year everyone is working hard to make it even more spectacular with lots of classic stages and even more opportunities for people to see these amazing cars in action.
“It looks like a great route with the inclusion of the Orme combined with all the fantastic forest stages. The finale through the streets of Llandudno will be very, very spectacular. There was an incredible atmosphere in town for the Ceremonial Finish last year and, now with the last stage finishing on the Promenade, it will just add to the incredible excitement. I always look forward to competing on home soil in Wales, and this year is no different.”
Tim Jones, Natural Resources Wales’ Executive Director of Operations for North and Mid Wales:
“Our forests in Wales are spectacular. Not only have they achieved almost legendary status in the world of rallying, but, while all this is going on, they continue to provide timber for the Welsh economy and beautiful places for people get outside to enjoy the outdoors. It’s great to host Wales Rally GB once again and we hope competitors and spectators enjoy the special places we look after.”
Thursday, 4 October 2018
Following a final pre-event Shakedown held in Clocaenog Forest on Thursday morning, the competitive WRC action blasts off at sunset under the spotlights at Tir Prince Raceway, Towyn on the north Wales coast. With high-flying jumps and flames lighting up the night sky, the short Thursday evening curtain-raiser proved an instant success when introduced last year and returns by popular demand in 2018 to provide an equally spectacular prologue to the forest stages that follow.
Friday, 5 October 2018
Taking advantage of the new closed roads legislation, Friday’s schedule is based in the fearsome forests of north Wales, with eight speed tests split either side of a midday return to the busy Rally Village in Deeside for service.
The day opens close to Ruthin in the classic Clocaenog Forest and then features two new stages both using stretches of closed public highway to link forest sections together and create greater challenges. The first is an exciting new combination of last year’s Brenig and Alwen stages, the second is further west in the famous Penmachno Forest. All three of these stages are repeated in the afternoon.
Adding to the spectator experience, Friday’s programme also includes an all-new stage at Slate Mountain at The Slate Caverns, where cars will run twice in quick succession, providing visitors with a double dose of WRC thrills. The world-famous venue, set near Blaenau Ffestiniog in Snowdonia, is well-known to adrenalin-seekers for its extraordinary underground adventures as well as being home to Zip World Titan, Europe’s first four-person zip line.
Saturday, 6 October 2018
Billed as ‘Super Saturday’, the rally’s longest and most demanding day features five epic special stages, all set in the mountains to the east of Aberystwyth with excellent spectating for the large numbers of weekend visitors.
Myherin, Hafren, Dyfi and Gartheiniog are world-renowned as true classics that always push crews to their limits and provide fans with some outstanding viewing opportunities. Hafren has been extended this year to incorporate the Sweet Lamb rally complex – always a fans’ favourite with its jumps and water splash.
All four stages are tackled twice – either side of the day’s new live TV stage set in Dyfnant Forest in the periphery of the Cambrian Mountains. A lunchtime regroup on the busy streets of central Newtown punctuates the action.
Sunday, 7 October 2018
After Saturday’s arduous exploits in mid Wales, Sunday sees the WRC action return to north Wales with two tough forest stages in Snowdonia.
An all-new Elsi stage has never been used before in the WRC, while the more familiar Gwydir has been doubled in length by using another section of closed public road and will be the event’s Power Stage for which extra points are awarded to the fastest five drivers.
The action then moves to Llandudno for a spectacular finale around the iconic Great Orme. The history-making stage blasts off on Marine Drive, takes in the spectacular ribbon of asphalt that clings to the rugged rock face circling the Great Orme and concludes on the closed streets of Llandudno. Here the rally route switches to closed public roads by following North Parade around the shoreline, before turning inland towards the town centre for a sprint up-and-down either side of the Gloddaeth Street dual carriageway. A spectacular jump is the prelude to a beachside finish on Llandudno’s curving Promenade, home to many of the resort’s top hotels.
With the Ceremonial Finish and prize-giving podium also located on the Promenade, it promises to be a very fitting finale to the FIA World Rally Championship’s annual Welsh adventure, perfectly epitomising Wales’ official ‘Year of the Sea’, which is celebrating the nation’s outstanding coastline in 2018.