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GP Week : Issue 107
WRC BULGARIA >> WRC PREVIEW >> reigning British Open champions have entered. Of the 12 or so British drivers on the list, half are driving small two-wheel drive cars. One of these is Harry Hunt, who clinched the FIA Rookie’s title at the recent Catalunya Rally. He drives his Fiesta R2. This will indeed be a rally for the foreign visitors to win. It is not only a world championship rally. There will be a national rally run in conjunction with Wales Rally GB. This will be run over stages 8 to 15 on Saturday then 17 and 18 on Sunday. Competitors will drive an eclectic mix of cars normally seen in British club rallying, headed by a very popular special., the ‘Peugeot Cosworth’ driven by Andrew Burton. The car is based on a 306 with space-frame chassis, into which has been installed a 2.9 litre 24 valve Cosworth V6 engine and six speed sequential Hewland gearbox. The sound of the engine and the speed of the car traditionally draws fans from the country to see it in action. This event is based at Builth Wells and does not visit Cardiff. For those in Cardiff there will be two special activities. Throughout the event there will be a display of various historic rally cars and before the superspecial on Saturday evening there will be a parade of around 20 historic cars under the presentation of Historic Rally Legends. There are also plans to parade around six cars from the Richard Burns Foundation. This is also the last time that Pirelli Star Drivers will be seen at the wheel of turbocharged four-wheel drive cars, before next year’s class take to the wheel of front-drive Fiestas. And there will be plenty of nostalgia. It was exactly 50 years ago, on the 1960 RAC Rally (the predecessor of Wales Rally GB) that the first special stage was first run on British territory. On that section, the Saab 850cc two-stoke three- speed car of Erik Carlsson made fastest time and this gave him victory on this event. The special stage involved was one of four held in Scotland, the only one run on gravel as opposed to asphalt, and was given the name Monument Hill. The personality featured on that monument was a Gaelic poet. This year one of the stage venues to be run on Day 2 on the Eppynt Ranges, in Wales, will start at a monument erected to celebrate the construction of an access road. This stage venue is being named Monument Hill. The recent occurrence of tree disease in Wales has had little effect on the route of the rally but has meant that the planned Thursday morning shakedown cannot be held at the traditional location in Margam Forest, near Port Talbot. Instead this will be on a short asphalt road called the Barrage within Cardiff Docks, run at night on the Wednesday before the rally. This road will use the first same stage route to be used 24 hours later again at night. The Barrage stage has a strange design, featuring a loop in mid-stage, which means that only one car will be despatched at a time. There is also one stage, used twice, which is substantially run on mixed surface. This is Four Ways Crychan on Saturday. The Service park arrangements in Cardiff have been altered. The WRC teams will be located in front of the downtown HQ building, while the support championships and privateers will be in the positions used last year. There will be two, not one, mid-day remote service parks, on Days 1 and 2, at Builth Wells in central Wales. The traditional forests are much the same as recent years, though the Rheola stage in south Wales is not being used. Instead the rally will return after several years to Radnor Forest The use of stages in mid-Wales means that once the event begins, the first time the rally cars will see Cardiff in daylight will be at the end of the rally. It also means that this is the second longest rally in terms of total distance this year, after the Swedish. Come and watch these special cars while you have the chance! 47