This year’s Wales Rally GB marks 20 years since sadly departed legend Colin McRae won the World Rally Championship, becoming both the youngest driver and the first Brit to do so.
The Deeside service park will host a display, Colin McRae: Tribute to a Legend, celebrating his life and career. Colin’s dad, Jimmy, who will be competing in national section of the rally in a historic Vauxhall Firenza, said: “It doesn’t seem 20 years ago that Margaret and I were at the finish in Chester celebrating Colin’s achievement. The McRae family is humbled by the celebrations being organised in tribute to his memory.”
Out on the stages, multiple-Rally America champion David Higgins will drive an NR4-spec Subaru WRX STi – freshly built by JRM and run by Subaru USA – carrying the same iconic livery as Colin’s title-winning Impreza 555. Higgins will be first off the start ramp on Thursday evening. He said: “What we have here is a fantastic opportunity to remind people just how big Colin was and still is. It’s also really important to remember how important Colin and Derek [Ringer, co-driver] winning the world championship was for British rallying.”
Rally GB is the 13th and last round of the 2015 season. Since both the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ title were settled back in September on Rally Australia, in Sebastien Ogier’s and Volkswagen’s favour, it’s essentially an end of season blow-out.
The Drivers’ championship positions are largely settled, though there is still a tussle for fifth place, Kris Meeke and Thierry Neuville separated by four points. A good performance this weekend is crucial for both drivers, not just for points, but also as they try to hang on to/find their seat for next year.
More important, though, is the battle for second in the Manufacturers’ standings – where the money is. Citroen has an advantage of just four points over Hyundai. A win is unlikely, but there’s a real opportunity to a podium position, which could prove decisive.
But as we learned last time out in Spain, anything could happen. Sebastien Ogier was cruising to the win when a slight mistake on the final stage put him into the barriers and out of the rally. A slightly bemused Andreas Mikkelsen was handed his first WRC win.
The route covers 192 miles of classic Welsh stages, starting with a run through the centre of Llandudno on Thursday evening. Friday will be a test of tyre management, with 80 miles of stages through fan and driver favourites Hafren, Sweet Lamb and Myherin, and time for just a single tyre change.
Another long run on Saturday closes with two stages run in darkness, while Sunday’s schedule includes the iconic Great Orme, the lone stretch of asphalt on the route. There’s been plenty of rain recently and more is forecast over the course of the rally, so conditions will be treacherous. The penalty for even a small mistakes could be huge.
Wales Rally GB runs from 12-15 November.
Drivers’ Championship top ten after 12 events
- Sebastien Ogier — Volkswagen Motorsport/VW Polo R WRC — 238 points
- Jari-Matti Latvala — Volkswagen Motorsport/VW Polo R WRC — 180
- Andreas Mikkelsen — Volkswagen Motorsport II/VW Polo R WRC — 154
- Mads Ostberg — Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT/DS 3 WRC — 110
- Kris Meeke — Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT/DS 3 WRC — 94
- Thierry Neuville — Hyundai Motorsport/Hyundai i20 WRC — 90
- Elfyn Evans — M-Sport WRT/Ford Fiesta RS WRC — 81
- Dani Sordo — Hyundai Motorsport/Hyundai i20 WRC — 77
- Hayden Paddon — Hyundai Motorsport N/Hyundai i20 WRC — 74
- Ott Tanak — M-Sport WRT/Ford Fiesta RS WRC — 63
Manufacturers’ Championship standings after 12 events
- Volkswagen Motorsport — 387 points
- Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team — 206
- Hyundai Motorsport — 202
- M-Sport World Rally Team — 173
- Volkswagen Motorsport II — 116
- Hyundai Motorsport N — 67
- Jipocar Czech National Team — 51
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By Only Motors