THE forest dirt tracks of North Wales threw treacherous terrain and sharp bends at the Wales Rally GB drivers on Friday, when pole position was snatched from the clutches of British star Kris Meeke.

The FIW World Rally Championship (WRC) 2019 again revved into action on day two of the circuit as more than 50 international drivers took to the 75 miles of flat out and unforgiving roads in Dyfnant, Penmachno and the moonlit stage at Aberhirnant.

Estonian Ott Tänak, who is leading the WRC overall standings with just two races to go after the Wales circuit, showed his superior form by clawing back Meeke’s 2.1 second lead from day one in Cheshire.

Tänak’s Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT pilot overhauled the Englishman on the final test as night set in over Aberhirnant, building a 3.4 second lead while Meeke dropped him third place behind Seb Ogier.

It was Welshman Elfyn Evans who was fastest out of the blocks on the opening Elsi stage, storming to a time 2.2 seconds faster than anyone else.

Sadly the 2017 winner would be hampered with broken suspension after impact with a rock on the following test dropping him out of the top ten. Cheered on by his local fans, the Welshman charged back to eighth to end the day in striking distance of the podium.

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Picture: Andre Lavadinho


1. Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja – Toyota Yaris WRC

2. Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia – Citroen C3 WRC +3.4sec

3. Kris Meeke/Seb Marshall – Toyota Yaris WRC +3.6sec

4. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul – Hyundai i20 WRC +8.4sec

5. Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger – Hyundai i20 WRC +25.7sec

6. Craig Breen/Paul Nagle – Hyundai i20 WRC +33.5sec

7. Teemu Suninen/Jarmo Lehtinen – Ford Fiesta WRC +37.4sec

8. Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin – Ford Fiesta WRC +51.8sec

9. Pontus Tidemand/Ola Floene – Ford Fiesta WRC +2.56.6m

10. Jan Kopecky/Jan Hlousek – Skoda Fabia R5 +4.01.1m

The longest leg of the rally is due to commence on ‘Super Saturday’, which houses seven stages and a monstrous 93 miles of speed tests in mid-Wales. Dyfi, Myherin and Sweet Lamb all feature a repeat loop before an all-new fan-friendly Colwyn Bay stage on the seafront rounds off the day in the fading daylight.

“It’s been an enjoyable but difficult day out there” said Tänak.

“Of course, you enjoy it when the car is performing and you are able to set some good times but from the other side, when conditions are like we normally have in Wales, it’s been a challenging day. There have been a lot of grip changes and it’s been a big job to keep the pace and also keep the car on the road.”

The lure of the WRC was at full flight in the forests drew record crowds to the stages as fans poured in to watch their heroes in action. Car parks became full from the early hours as eager spectators strived for a prime viewing location to catch a glimpse of the four-wheel-drive turbocharged machines.

Sadly, the first pass of the Aberhirnant stage would be cancelled by rally organisers as spectators in an unsafe position returned after being requested to move, and with safety a number one priority, the stage was stopped.

Sunday delivers more of a sprint as Alwen, Brenig and the Great Orme are on offer ahead of the Wolf Brenig Power Stage, the final route before the ceremonial finish on Llandudno Promenade.

Tickets are still available via the ticket office in Venue Cymru at Llandudno or at the gate of every stage.

Full ticket information can be found on the website.


Saturday, October 5

08:06 SS11: Dyfi 1

10:08 SS12: Myherin 1

11:02 SS13: Sweet Lamb Hafren 1

12:40 Regroup: Newtown

14:08 SS14: Myherin 2

15:02 SS15: Sweet Lamb Hafren 2

16:19 SS16: Dyfi 2

19:13 SS17: Colwyn Bay

19:49 Service and overnight: Llandudno

Sunday, October 6

07:28 SS18: Alwen 1

08:08 SS19: Brenig 1

09:26 SS20: Great Orme

11:10 SS21: Alwen 2

12:18 SS22: Brenig 2 (Wolf Power Stage)

13:32 Ceremonial Finish: The Promenade, Llandudno

*all times for first car and subject to change