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welsh rally-bit

New-look Wales Rally GB 2013 sets the historic event on fire

VW Dominance › RallyFest › WRC2 GB Win › Amy Williams


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ON ME ED T

his event – when it was the iconic Lombard RAC, ROYLE MEDIA & ROAD then Network Q – is what made me a petrolhead, Road Magazine is published by motoring journalist and lifelong rally fan. Standing experienced, happy publishing & PR team, Royle Media. Contact stage-side as a young boy, obligatory bobble hat on and us for your own brand magazine armed with an airhorn, I witnessed the legendary Group – print or diggy – and perfect PR, B cult cars – 205 T16, Delta Integrale, Audi Quattro – spit marketing & SoMe. flames and gravel, wastegates chattering: I was hooked. Phil & Bonnie Royle I adored that era of rallying, but I’m not all misty-eyed. www.roylemedia.co.uk The event, the cars and the world of rallying got faster and www.facebook.com/roylemedia evolved and I moved with it – always enjoying the unique, www.twitter.com/RoyleMedia special sport. But, in recent years, our only UK WRC round – Wales Rally GB – lost its way, the crowds, and the ROAD SNAPPER: Neil Denham www.neildenham.co.uk buzz that went with them. I’m not sure, but it may have even come close to losing WRC favour too: A tragedy. ROAD USA: Ashley Van Dyke Cue a re-think, a revitalisation of this historic, amazing, www.avdmotorsports.com challenging event. And boy, did MSA Chairman, Alan Gow and all the Wales Rally GB team work wonders this year ROAD RACER: Neil Primrose – new North Wales base, night stages, the introduction of www.islaracing.com www.travisonline.com family-friendly “RallyFest” stages, lively ceremonial start/ finish, pop concerts... the lot. And, best of all, 196-miles of some of the best, most challenging, technical, slippery, ROAD I.T GURU: Steve Davies www.skiddmark.com tricky and epochal special stages in the world – Hafren, Sweet Lamb, Myherin, Gartheiniog, Dyfi... names that sing Follow Road on Twitter, like us on louder than a male voice choir to rally fans the world over. Facebook, enjoy our daily blog & The event re-brand – and targeted, hard work of the PR visit our Royle Media publishing & PR website, by clicking on the blob and social media team – not only created what is essenlinks below. Thanks! tially a new Wales Rally GB event, but it did something even more magical... it brought the crowds back, and with it the uniquely Welsh forest flavour. And the WRC and national drivers didn’t disappoint... as you can read here.


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dominatio dub History is made, as VW win in their inaugural WRC season, then top it with a 1-2 in Wales!


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ever in their wildest dreams could VW have predicted the paradigm-shifting inaugural WRC season they’ve had – Sébastien Ogier crowned 2013 champion, the new VW Polo R WRC winning the manufacturer’s championship by 100+ points, Yari-Matti Latvala claiming third and a 1-2 win in Wales Rally GB to round of the season in sensational style. Dominance doesn’t even cover it! Team boss, Jost Capito must be in for a big bonus and is surely keen to hang on

to his Ogier, Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen dream team for 2014 – not to mention the quiet rally God behind the scenes, “the king of set-up” – Carols Sainz, who’s had a huge part to play in the VW Motorsport success story. Ogier was untouchable on the tough Welsh gravel event that’s not been kind to him in the past. He set the pace from the off and kept his twotime-WRGB-winning teammate and gravel ace, JariMatti a safe 20-seconds adrift pretty much throughout the entire rally, as the Finn com-


plained of “not getting the feeling with the car I’ve had on these stages in the past” and “making silly mistakes.” Yari pushed hard, and looked spectacular on the stages – having more than a few ‘moments’ on the way. But Ogier responded each time, and kept the Finn at bay... surely proving what a justifiable champion he is, if his eight 2013 wins (& 100% finish record) don’t tell you how ace the 29-year-old is in a WRC car (who started at just 22). Having already sealed the driver’s title at his home round in France last month, the 29-year-old arrived in Wales brimming with confidence


and with the pressure off. He was so smooth, composed and phenomenally fast – leading for all four days in the forests, keeping Yari frustrated. Mikkelsen had a great rally too – in his Polo R WRC festooned in a cool livery of fan’s photos (right). He looked like a podium contender, until

fellow dude rising star, Thiery Neuville nailed down the No.3 spot with an awesome drive in his Qatar M-Sport Fiesta. The impossibly handsome and cool (almost pro skier!) Mikkelsen ended up in a fierce scrap for fourth on the final day – with characterful fellow Norwegian, Mads Øst-

berg. There was little to separate the two. But, after a couple of errors and one fifth gear spin that almost saw Andreas off into the woods, the young talent faded and finished fifth – both Norwegians no doubt aided by the Citroën’s of Robert Kubica and Mikko Hirvonen crashing out... WRC2


champ Kubica twice! Speaking after his amazing victory, Sébastien Ogier said: “It has been a perfect year. This is our first win here – it’s really amazing and I’m so happy. Once again I give a big thanks to the team, the car was just perfect. We had a great battle with my teammate which was special and I’m really happy. It’ll be a hard challenge to keep the title next year but that’s the aim.” And Jari-Matti Latvala said: “I am a bit disappointed as I won this rally in 2011 and 2012 – of course I wanted another one. The speed was good but there were too many little mistakes over the four days. I need to work on my rhythm for next year as it’s not there sometimes, but it has been a good weekend.” So, VW and Ogier made WRC history with their amazingly quick, super sorted Polo R – looking the business, with its boxy edges and smart livery and sounding fab. Job done. Onto 2014 now... can anyone touch them? Maybe Hyundai’s new i20 will with Neuville? One thing’s for sure... it’s great to have such talented new blood in WRC.


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roll with it


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s if further proof were needed WRC drivers are more skilled behind the wheel than F1 drivers, this year’s 2013 WRC2 winner, Robert Kubica made the point crystal clear on his WRC debut with Citroën – rolling out of Wales Rally GB not once, but twice! Ouch! To be fair, he did have a new co-driver to get used to as well as the DS3 WRC, but still... not a sparkling debut! On top of this, Mikko Hirvonen also violently crashed out – filling his DS3 WRC with Welsh mud in the process! Thankfully and rather ironically for Citroën, their tarmac ace, Dani Sordo brought some relief to the French marque, topping two stages – but he still finished well down the order in seventh, behind the privately run machine of Martin Prokop. Mmmm. Not a great day in the office for anyone in the Citroën camp here at Wales Rally GB. Zut alors! Bring back Loeb!


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n WRC2, local hero and rising WRC talent, Elfyn Evans (son of ex-WRC driver, Gwyndaf Evans) shone on his home event – blitzing to a maiden WRC2 victory and impressive eighth overall, much to the delight of all the many Welsh/British rally fans. Impressively, he won WRC2 by over a minute from Jari

Ketomaa, with popular Brit Mark Higgins getting 3rd. Elfyn Evans said: “It’s a special feeling to win here. To see so many Welsh flags waving out there is incredible. It’s been an amazing learning experience at M-Sport and I want to thank everyone for the opportunity. The car has just been amazing and it’s brilliant to win our home event. We’ll just have to see what happens next year.” In 2012, Elfyn secured the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) Academy title, the R2 title in the British Rally Championship (BRC) and the UK Fiesta Sport Trophy. WRC calling...? We hope so!


Good evans!


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co-driving gold Merrick Stages, Rally Yorkshire, McRae Stages, Cambrain Rally, then a Wales Rally GB class win... in under 10 weeks. Go Amy Williams!


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orgeous, gregarious, gold-medalist, Amy Williams MBE is our sort of thrill seeker. Two months ago, the Skeleton bob Winter Olympian hadn’t ever done any motorsport – now she’s a class-winning codriver on one of the world’s toughest rallies. Ace! The sassy gal (with the right surname for Welsh rallying) has just assisted Sky Sports analyst, Tony Jardine to his best ever result on Wales Rally GB – in the pair’s Kumho-shod ProSpeed Mitsubishi Evo, which finished 1st in Class 3 and an ace 26th overall. That is one hell of an achievement. Bobble hats off to the pair of them!


Amy Williams said to ROAD on Twitter during the event “I think I will be sad when this is all over! Although I’m shattered! One day to go!” And as the event drew to a close, she told us about leading their class: “Awesome result, totally unexpected!” And as the class winners

got their Champagne at the finish, Amy said: “It’s been an unbelievable few days. It has also been crazy and really tough, but I’ve honestly loved every minute of it. The plan was always to get to the finish and we’ve made it! I’ve really got the bug for rallying now – I absolutely love it. I’m gob-

smacked at how well we’ve done. It’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I’d love the opportunity to do it again.” Yay! We’ll second that – what an ambassador for rallying and what a great gal; rising to the rally challenge, and great driving Tony. R-E-S-P-E-C-T!


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rally fest

We soak up the WRGB atmosphere at the new Kinmel Park RallyFest – proving a huge success with the crowds.

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ne of the new features of the re-vamped, allnew Wales Rally GB this year was the addition of ‘RallyFest’ stages. Designed as “family-friendly special stages at unique locations, providing a wide range of facilities and entertainment not traditionally found in the forests,” the RallyFest stages were run at the infamous Sweet Lamb in Powys on Friday, the stunning National Trust Chirk Castle on Saturday and Kinmel Park near Conwy on Sunday (not used as a stage since the 70’s). With easy parking access, the RallyFest stages suited

rally newbies and families alike. And the trade stands, historic rally car displays by Slowly Sideways, catering, live bands and large screen TV’s and commentary (from rally TV ace, Jon Desborough at Kinmel) created a superb, accessible atmosphere – really close to the WRC action – and went down a storm with us, and those we spoke to. Kinmel Park is a stunning place to watch the rally action – in glorious oak parkland, in front of a dilapidated old hall, with views down to the sea. And we really enjoyed wandering around the Slowly Sideways cult cars – Lancia


Delta S4, Metro 6R4, Colin McRae’s Focus WRC and an Escort Cosworth WRC – picking up WRC merchandise, listening to the live music and getting ready to rally with the TV screen action and enjoyable commentary. We then revelled in the WRC buzz, followed by the (two and three-day) National Rally that ran alongside the WRC – featuring crowd-pleasing Mk1

and Mk2 Escorts, Imprezas, Evos, 205 GTi, 911s, Talbot Sunbeams and even a few Freelanders: Big cheers! My rally virgin family really enjoyed RallyFest. And even as a hardened rally fan – used to seeing WRC cars at full chat on the fast, flowing Forest stages – I loved the relaxed, fun, RallyFest vibe... inspiring future Ogiers. Bravo!


rally recce

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ubaru might not be in WRC anymore, but the brand is synonymous with rallying. So, for our trip to Wales Rally GB, we tested the £31,495 Outback Lineartronic 2.0 Boxer Diesel – featuring a new CVT automatic transmission (£1500 more than the manual). And it’s ace: The new gearbox is perfectly matched to the 148bhp, 350Nm, torquey, punchy, 45mpg diesel Boxer engine. Add in Subaru’s legendary Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive and the Outback’s raised ride hide and you’ve got the perfect car to go trekking across fields and up Welsh muddy lanes in. And with comfy part-leather heated sports seats, climate control, 17-inch alloys, sliding sunroof, Bluetooth, reversing camera, auto lights and wipers... it’s a fab road tripper too. Read a full test in our Subaru special of Road, out in early 2014.


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ENJOY THE PERFORMANCE

Road 37: Rallying  

Wales Rally GB 2013 Special

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