WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP RALLYING RETURNS TO WALES IN 2020
Following last week’s record-breaking Wales Rally GB, event organiser Motorsport UK is delighted to confirm that the FIA World Rally Championship will be returning to Wales in 2020.
Appealing to the purists, the UK’s round of the electrifying WRC will move back to a more traditional end-of-season date and be staged from Thursday 29 October to Sunday 1 November. As the penultimate – and final European round – on a calendar that commences in Monte Carlo in late January and finishes in Japan in late November, Wales once again is certain to deliver maximum excitement as the 2020 title race reaches its thrilling finale.
“We are absolutely delighted to be back in Wales next year – even more so after all the hugely positive feedback we’ve already had to what was an incredible 2019 event,” said Hugh Chambers, CEO of Motorsport UK, organiser of Wales Rally GB. “With Wales as the centre-piece, the whole rally benefited from the increased profile and fan support right from the start in Liverpool and the following spectator-friendly opening stage at Oulton Park.
“Every year we challenge ourselves to make our round of the World Rally Championship even better than the previous one and, now Wales has been confirmed for 2020, we can start striving for even more exciting innovations for the WRC’s return in little more than 12 months’ time.”
Next year will be the 21st in succession that Rally GB has been staged in Wales and the 18th as Wales Rally GB with the Welsh Government as its principal funding partner.
Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism Dafydd Elis Thomas said: “It was amazing to attend some of the stages of this year’s Wales Rally GB, including Llyn Brenig and the finish at Llandudno. It’s a great event, taking advantage of some of the stunning locations north and mid Wales have to offer while showcasing these to a world-wide audience. We look forward to seeing the organiser’s post event report and hearing the proposals for next year’s event in Wales.”
The announcement of Wales’ continuing position on the globe-trotting WRC calendar comes after the major success of a further revitalised 2019 event which finished in Llandudno on Sunday.
The renowned Welsh seaside resort in County Conwy hosted the rally’s central Service Park for the very first time and fittingly witnessed the crowning of a first time Rally GB victor as Estonian ace Ott Tänak celebrated his maiden win – but only after an enthralling three-way tussle with title rivals Sébastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville.
Ensuring there was plenty for the many thousands of home fans to cheer, both Kris Meeke and Elfyn Evans were among the pace-setters throughout four memorable days.
Ulsterman Meeke set the early pace following the impressive Ceremonial Start on Liverpool’s historic waterside Pier Head and finally finished in a strong fourth position, while local Welsh hero Evans charged back mightily after an early error to claim a highly creditable fifth place on what was his return to the sport after a three month lay-off through a back injury.
Other stand-out highlights included Sir Chris Hoy realising a boyhood dream when driving one of his hero Colin McRae’s title-winning Subaru Imprezas (with Colin’s dad Jimmy in the passenger seat) at Oulton Park, celebrations to mark the 75th Rally GB milestone, rising star Kalle Rovanperrä being crowned as WRC2 Pro champion and four-time Rally GB winners Petter Solberg and Phil Mills scoring an emotional WRC2 class win on their farewell appearance.
With so much to savour, the scintillating action drew record numbers of fans into the Welsh forests and, as desired, the introduction of new stages at Oulton Park in Cheshire and Colwyn Bay on the County Conwy coast introduced the high octane WRC excitement to new audiences.
The full route for the now confirmed 2020 Wales Rally GB will be announced in the New Year.