RALLY cars will take over the streets of Ceredigion this weekend – with a return of the Abersytwyth street stage on Saturday evening.
The Rali Ceredigion street stage around Aberystwyth town centre attracted thousands of spectators last year to the promenade and the town’s castle, as drivers completed a circuit along the promenade, around St Michael’s Church and through some of the town’s side streets.
This year’s event promises to be even bigger with more fan zones and a special meet and greet being held on Friday at the Bandstand.
Starting around 6pm on Friday 1 September the all-new Rali Show, based at Aberystwyth Bandstand on the promenade, will give the public an opportunity to get close to the top competing cars before they hit the stages on Saturday.
There will be a chance to meet the leading drivers and take selfies at a special autograph session – the official Rali Programme will have a dedicated section for fans to collect autographs as a memento of the event.
Fans will be able to hear interviews from the top drivers and get their thoughts as they make their final event preparations at the pre-event press conference which will be followed by the Ceremonial Start, where selected drivers will cross the start ramp on the promenade.
Spectating on the rali stages will once again be possible through a network of dedicated Fan Zones, which will offer premium viewing at hand-picked locations, and offer big screen action and live commentary.
Fan Zones will be available on SS2/5 Cwmerfyn, SS3/6 Cwm Ystwyth, SS9/12 Llanafan and SS11/14 Nant y Moch – and tickets for all Fan Zones will go on sale during the first week of August.
There will also be a Fan Zone at the Aberystwyth Street Stage, which will be run twice on Saturday 2 September to round off the opening day’s action. This year the stage features a ‘donut’ for cars to circle and fans can again benefit from elevated viewing, food and beverage stalls and live big screen action.
Online tickets for the Aberystwyth Street stage are £6 per person or £10 on the day and include a park and ride shuttle bus service. There won’t be any parking for rally fans in Aberystwyth town centre so anyone arriving by car should use the park and ride service, which is situated at Lovesgrove. Children 16 and under go free and do not need a ticket for entry.
There will be a host of talent on display with three Welsh drivers heading the list of entrants, which includes a number of former rally champions and showcases the best of British rally talent.
The 2019 rally winner and last year’s runner-up Osian Pryce, from Machynlleth, leads the way. The current Motorsport UK British Rally Champion is also contesting the FIA European Rally Championship and Tour European Rally series alongside Belgian co-driver Stefan Prevot and will take to the Ceredigion stages in a VW Polo Rally2.
British Rally Championship challenger James Williams from Newcastle Emlyn and co-driver Dai Roberts were podium finishers last year and line up at number two in a Hyundai i20 Rally2.
Meirion Evans from Llanwrda, who is targeting victory in the Irish Tarmac Championship and the FIA European Rally Trophy, and co-driver Jonathan Jackson are number three in their VW Polo Rally2.
Rali Ceredigion also counts as the final two rounds of the Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship with Neil Roskell and Callum Black going into a head-to-head fight for the 40th anniversary drivers’ title.
Roskell, who finished runner-up last year, leads the series after six high-scoring finishes in his Ford Fiesta Rally2 alongside co-driver Andrew Roughead. However, Black and co-driver Jack Morton, in a similar Fiesta, are the only crew able to deny Roskell the title.
It’s also the home event for Aberystwyth driver and last year’s Protyre Asphalt champion Steve Wood, who’s competing in his new Citroën C3 Rally2.
A trio of local champions are set to do battle in three very different Ford Escorts. Former British Rally Champion Gwyndaf Evans leads the challenge in his modified Ford Escort Mk2 while multiple Asphalt Rally Champion and British Historic Rally Champion Jason Pritchard starts in his historic specification Escort.
Adding to the battle is former World Rally Champion co-driver Phil Mills from Abermule, who is swapping seats to celebrate his 60th birthday. Co-driven by his son Iwan, the duo are competing in a replica of the Mk1 Escort which Roger Clark took to victory on the 1974 Welsh Rally.
Osian Pryce said: “I’m really looking forward to returning back to rallying in Wales and I’m excited to be back in the VW Polo again. Hopefully we can pick up where we left off last year, as I enjoyed the stages and we’re hoping for everything to click into place as it’s been a difficult season so far. It looks set to be a challenging route and two intense days of rallying on the best Tarmac roads you could ask for. It’s great that the event has the support of the local community again, and is showcasing what Ceredigion has to offer.”
Meirion Evans said: “It’s great to be taking on a high-quality rally close to home and Rali Ceredigion sets a great example for rallying in the UK. Having an event of this calibre is fantastic for the area and the atmosphere last year was something special. We’re expecting another tough event and I’m looking forward to the new stages, which sound like they’re more fast and flowing than last year.”
Friday 1 September
Rali Show, autograph session, Ceremonial Start: Aberystwyth Promenade
Saturday 2 September
SS2/5 Cwmerfyn Fan Zone
SS3/6 Cwm Ystwyth Fan Zone
SS7/8 Aberystwyth Fan Zone
Sunday 3 September
SS9/12 Llanafan Fan Zone
SS11/14 Nant y Moch Fan Zone
Finish Podium celebrations: Aberystwyth Promenade