Rali Ceredigion ended with a ‘resounding’ Welsh victory and a ‘really good weekend’ for local businesses, with Ceredigion County Council estimating £3 million was brought into the local economy
This is the third year the rally has taken place, having first launched in 2019 before returning in 2022 post-Covid.
This year, the event set itself apart by starting with an opening ceremony outside Aberystwyth’s bandstand on Friday, 1 September.
Drivers took to the stage to share with fans their thoughts about the event and how they felt about the new challenges of the updated track, which among other changes, saw drivers racing in Powys.
Machynlleth driver Osian Pryce, who ended up winning this year’s event, for the second time, said: “It’s good to mix it up. It’s nice to see different parts of Ceredigion and venture into Powys as well.”
Over 100 drivers manoeuvred their cars onto the podium to give their comments on the event ahead of them, before driving past the excited crowd of onlookers. Fans also got the chance to meet some of the drivers at an autograph signing session.
A spokesperson for Rali Ceredigion said: “This year’s rally builds on all the achievements so far and sees the introduction of a ceremonial start, a rally show and autograph session, providing an opportunity for the public to see the top competing cars close-up and meet some of the drivers.
“The scene for this year’s rally was well and truly set at Friday evening’s Rali Show and ceremonial start on Aberystwyth promenade.
“Illuminated by a spectacular sunset over Cardigan Bay, huge crowds turned out to witness a selection of competing cars and crews.”
All 112 drivers raced across 14 stages on Saturday, 2 September and Sunday, 3 September.
The changes to the track meant drivers and their cars competed across a distance of 100 miles.
One of the changes was the return of cars driving through the Aberystwyth street stage twice.
On that stage, drivers were challenged by a new addition to the track, which saw them ‘donutting’ in a circle before driving along King Street behind the Old College. The road had more turns than usual, as hay bales were placed on the road for drivers to navigate around.
This section proved a challenge to many drivers, who had to stop, reverse and manoeuvre through the donut instead of moving through it in one fluid motion.
A spokesperson said: “The donut is difficult but we wanted to include it because of the spectacle. It’s straight after the start line; competitors start and immediately go into a donut.
“How you do it depends on the car you’re driving, some cars are four-wheel drive, others are two-wheel drive. It’s easier to do it in a rear-wheel drive car because you can use the spin in the back of the car to push the car around and maintain the drift.
“Altogether, the route had 14 stages, pushing the total competitive distance of the event to 100 miles – an increase of 16 per cent from last year’s route – plus the return of two runs over the town’s street stage on Saturday evening, there’s more than ever to enjoy this year.”
The rally became the first motorsport event in the UK to be carbon neutral last year, and has continued to offset the carbon produced again this year.
A spokesperson said: “We are extremely proud of our carbon offsetting project, which was a pioneering initiative for motorsport events last year as our event was the first in the UK to fully offset all emissions from competing cars.
“To properly achieve this, we use external partner Carbon Positive Motorsport to provide certified offsetting services based on high-quality projects for rewilding and tree planting.”
The event also included a new race category for cars running on alternative fuels.
Climate activists question rally's green credentials
Climate activists claimed the event’s carbon offsetting measures, as well as their biofuel car category, did not tangibly offset the impact of the rally taking place.
A spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion said: “The ‘green’ version of the ‘new-style rali’ consists of running one car on biofuel and paying an offsetting company for a calculation of damage caused by emissions.
“What is included in that calculation? All support vehicles, road closure signage, fencing, visits to residents on the route, clearing and supporting road edges, emails, phone calls by organisers, attendance of local people at consultation meetings, hire of premises, attendance of employees of the organisation? Not to mention the continuous presence of a helicopter to record the rally from the air."
Fan tickets were also structured on a per vehicle basis, which the event’s organisers claim encourages ride sharing.
“Our event is also the only one in the UK to achieve the FIA’s Environmental Accreditation, providing international acknowledgment of our efforts” the spokesperson added.
“We have provided a class for alternative fuel vehicles and will be promoting the use of 100 per cent sustainable race fuel, manufactured using a carbon capture process.
“We have structured our fan tickets on a per vehicle basis, promoting vehicle sharing among spectators, and have partnered with a local company to provide recycling facilities at all Fan Zones.”
The event was ‘fantastic’ for business in Aberystwyth, with one trader having their ‘best trade day ever’ and others having very busy weekends.
A member of staff at the Marine Hotel said: “We’ve been very busy this weekend, and we’ve noticed, because everyone was here for the event, they were all really pleasant and upbeat. It has been a good weekend.”
Starling Cloud general manager Grant Thomas said: “The Rali’s been fantastic for my business. It’s a funny one because it’s made the business inaccessible for locals because our car park was used for doing mechanics on the rally cars, but it’s been fully booked by people from the rally.
“Saturday was our best trading day ever. We were full on Sunday night when the final ceremony finished too.”
The event claims to have also benefited local communities across the area by supporting initiatives and schools, as well as ‘upgrading’ the network of defibrillators across local villages.
A rally spokesperson said: “The event brings multiple benefits to local communities, schools and initiatives.
“We’ve supplied defibrillators to help upgrade the network across local villages and provide financial support and other resources to community councils and local schools who benefit from the event taking place in the area.
“Ceredigion County Council estimates the event brought in £3m to the area. We’ve had very positive comments in that sense throughout the weekend.
“We think it’s really important that we do bring these benefits because the whole point of the event is to raise the status of Ceredigion and the local area. We’re trying to drive an economic benefit for local businesses.”
Pryce and co-driver Sephane Prevot earned a ‘resounding victory’, having driven ‘faultlessly’ over the final stages of the event, and being one of few to have managed to clear the track’s new donut area in one move.
At the finish, Pryce said: “It’s been a challenging rally, I’ve really enjoyed the driving and I’m delighted to have won.
“But I couldn’t have done it without everyone who has supported me: Melvyn Evans Motorsport for providing me with such a great car and Stephane for being part of the team.
“This has been a fantastic event. It’s great for the area, great for the sport and I applaud the organisers for all they have achieved.”
In response, chairman of the JDS Machinery Rali Ceredigion organising committee, Phil Pugh said: “I must congratulate Osian and Stephane on their impressive performance.
“I also congratulate every crew who collected an award, all those who made it to the finish and thank each and every competitor for joining us for what has been an amazing event.
“It has surpassed our expectations and we hope those of others too.
“This rally is only possible because of the incredible team behind it; the marshals, officials, sponsors, partners and everyone who’s been involved.
“We were delighted to see so many people watching the event on the stages and following it online.
“We look forward to doing it all again next year!”