The WRC crews that will tackle this week’s Dayinsure Wales Rally GB are braced for a different type of event as favourable weather has left the Welsh stages relatively dry and mud-free.
Having completed the pre-event recce and Thursday morning’s shakedown stage, the crews now know they will do battle on gravel roads that are markedly different to those that were encountered in 2015 when torrential rain brought standing water, issues with aqua planing and deep mud.
Britain’s Kris Meeke, who starts as one of the pre-event favourites after taking victories in Portugal and Finland earlier this season, said: “This is a different Rally GB than what we’ve come to expect, it’s a lot drier than normal.
“It’s going to be a challenge especially on Saturday when we do a full loop without changing tyres. There are a lot of complicated factors involved here and whoever makes the right choice can do something special. It’s going to be an interesting weekend.”
Ott Tänak, the pacesetter on Thursday’s shakedown stage in Clocaenog Forest, agreed that the 2016 stages had an unusual look about them.
The Estonian said: “It’s quite funny to think the roads are drying at the moment – it makes the rally more difficult for tyre and car set-up. But it’s the way it is. I’m sure if you get good grip from the stages, the roads will flow really nicely, they look in nice condition.”
Esapekka Lappi will be part of a three-way battle for the WRC 2 title on the Welsh stages and he believes this year’s road conditions will require a driving style that is similar to that which is normally needed on Finland’s ultra-fast gravel roads.
“We have done the recce and the stages look really nice. It’s quite dry so the grip can be good. It’s kind of similar to Finland, the driving style – you can keep the full throttle,” he explained.
Rally GB gets underway with a ceremonial start in Colwyn Bay on Thursday night before the crews tackle 22 stages totalling 332.03 competitive kilometres between Friday and Sunday.