Britain’s round of the World Rally Championship will start in England for the first time in 20 years, with Wales Rally GB being flagged away from Liverpool and into a first stage at Oulton Park.
The confirmation of Liverpool as a start venue and the Cheshire circuit as the opener – along with the service park being moved from Deeside to Llandudno and a new Colwyn Bay stage on Saturday evening – are the main revisions to the route for 2019.
Oulton Park returns to the Rally GB timetable for the first time since 1993.
Motorsport UK chief executive Hugh Chambers said: “We feel strongly that by moving the start to Liverpool and Thursday evening’s curtain-raiser to Oulton Park, this year’s Wales Rally GB will not only get off to its most accessible and exciting start for many years, but also entice more people into Wales for the incomparable action which follows in the forests.
“The addition of Colwyn Bay will further assist us in our efforts to showcase this remarkable sport to even wider audiences – a quest that’s endorsed by our decision to move the service park into Llandudno town centre.”
The mainstay of the action on the October 3-6 event will remain the same as last season, with the forests of north Wales being used on Friday and Sunday, while Saturday’s action remains rooted around mid-Wales.
Route co-ordinator Andrew Kellitt has once again worked hard to evolve a route which is hamstrung not only by the FIA’s regulations on the length of road sections, but also this year by the tree disease which has cost the event the Gartheiniog test.
The ever-popular Dyfnant stage moves from Saturday to Friday for this year and will be run twice. Aberhirnant will also be back on the itinerary, again running on the opening day.
Saturday’s Dyfi, Myherin and Sweet Lamb Hafren stages are all extended from last year (to cover the loss of Dyfnant and Gartheiniog from that day’s action) and day two is marginally longer than last season.
The woods used on Friday and Sunday switch around, with the roads Elsi and Penmachno roads close to Betws-Y-Coed moving to open the event’s gravel action (Gwydir, also in this area is Thursday’s shakedown stage). The Clocaenog area is used on Sunday with Alwen and Brenig running twice. Brenig returns as the powerstage.
The Great Orme stage runs just once this season and will only include the headland stretch mainly because streets of Llandudno are busy being the service park.