A showpiece start in Liverpool, a new base in the resort town of Llandudno and the return of night-time forest action head a raft of changes to Wales Rally GB’s (3 - 6 October) cross-border 2019 route.
For the first time in recent history, Britain’s WRC counter will kick-off in England with a Thursday afternoon start ceremony alongside Liverpool’s waterfront.
The focus switches to the north Wales coast where Llandudno will host a town centre street-based service park, from where competitors will journey into the rugged forests for three days of flat-out action.
A forest stage in darkness, a test at Oulton Park race circuit and a family-friendly Saturday evening stage in the heart of Colwyn Bay complete the major changes to the 12th round of the FIA World Rally Championship.
M-Sport Ford’s Elfyn Evans, winner in 2017 and a Welshman, welcomed the innovations.
“Taking the rally to the heart of a big city like Liverpool is a great way of introducing the sport to a new audience. The same can be said about the opening Oulton Park stage and basing the rally in Llandudno, which will make for an exciting new service park with a lot going on.
“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,” he said.
After the Liverpool start, competitors immediately head to Oulton Park, which hosts a stage for the first time since 1993.
Friday is based in north Wales’ Snowdonia mountains and features four morning forest stages that are repeated in the afternoon after service. The second pass of Aberhirnant will take place in darkness and the itinerary also includes the short spectator-friendly Slate Mountain test.
Super Saturday is the longest day and journeys into mid-Wales for a double loop of the classic Dyfi, Myherin and Hafren tests. A lunchtime tyre change in Newtown splits the laps before the day closes with a new spectator stage on Colwyn Bay promenade.
The finale is back in the north, with a double loop through Alwen and Brenig sandwiching an asphalt test around the iconic Great Orme headland on the edge of Llandudno. The second visit to Brenig forms the Wolf Power Stage, with bonus points for the fastest five crews.
The 22 stages total 316.50km of action before the Llandudno finish.
Full details can be found here.