BLAST-OFF AFTER DARK: WRC STARS LIGHT UP THE NIGHT SKY
• Jumps, drifts and donuts dazzle the crowds at World Championship curtain-raiser
• Tir Prince stages floodlit spectacular ahead of three days of high-speed forest thrills
• Toyota young gun Esapekka Lappi takes early lead with fastest time in Conwy County
• Tickets available online and on the gate for mid and north Wales speed tests
This weekend’s Dayinsure Wales Rally GB (4-7 October) revved into life in spectacular fashion at Tir Prince Raceway this evening, as the world’s fastest rally drivers wowed enthusiastic crowds with a high-speed blast around the curtain-raiser to the fast-paced World Championship event.
Thousands of fans packed into Europe’s premier trotting track to get a glimpse of the WRC heroes in action, with the stars of the show signing autographs and posing for selfies with appreciative spectators before taking to the microphone for interviews broadcast all around the arena on big screens.
Building up to the main event, appetites were further whetted by Paul Swift’s ever-popular Stunt Show and a dramatic SuperMoto display, setting the scene for the rally superstars, who flew through a flat-out time trial against the clock incorporating crowd-pleasing donuts, dazzling drifts and breathtaking jumps.
The Prestone MSA British Rally Championship crews opened proceedings on the Visit Conwy Tir Prince speed test – the first competitive action of the event – before the WRC heavyweights stole the spotlight in their flame-spitting, 380bhp, four-wheel drive turbocharged beasts.
Toyota’s Esapekka Lappi topped the timesheets around the short, sharp one-mile course, three tenths-of-a-second ahead of team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, with title protagonists Thierry Neuville, Sébastien Ogier and Ott Tänak evenly-matched in third, fourth and fifth.
The Estonian’s day had got off to a rocky start when he slid off the road and down a bank during the morning pre-event Shakedown in Clocaenog Forest after missing his braking point on the slippery gravel roads. Teemu Suninen set the pace there, with local hero Elfyn Evans tied for second place.
“What a fantastic way to kick-start the 2018 edition of Dayinsure Wales Rally GB,” enthused the World Championship event’s Managing Director, Ben Taylor. “World Rally Cars are always a sight to behold, but in the dark, with their headlights piercing through the night sky, they are even more spectacular – and the WRC and BRC crews put on a spellbinding show this evening at Visit Conwy Tir Prince.
“It was the perfect appetiser to what lies ahead – three days of flat-out competition through some of the most iconic and demanding rally stages in the world. If tonight’s entertainment is anything to go by, it’s going to be an absolute cracker!”
The high-octane action will resume tomorrow with a series of fan-friendly north Wales speed tests, before ‘Super Saturday’ pits competitors against each other through the legendary mid Wales forests – incorporating such classic stages as Myherin, Hafren and Gartheiniog. Dayinsure Wales Rally GB then concludes on Sunday morning with the history-making grand finale – the eagerly-anticipated Great Orme Llandudno Street Stage.
Though grandstands and hospitality are sold out, tickets are still on sale with the option of buying online – at significantly discounted prices – or on the gate subject to availability.
Discounted Day Passes for Saturday cost £28, with Sunday’s Day Pass priced even more attractively at £23. These passes not only give access to all speed tests on that day but also include all booking fees, a copy of the Official Programme (cover price £9) plus car parking on a ‘first come, first-served’ basis. Full price admission on the gate remains available for all three days.
Full information can be found on the official www.walesrallygb.com website and via the event’s social media channels.