The 75th Anniversary Of The Famous Wales Rally GB Is Set To Be Celebrated In Classic Style
The Wales Rally has been a central fixture in motorsport ever since the first running of the event back in 1932, when 342 competitors set off from nine different locations to conquer a variety of 1000-mile routes all ending in Torquay on the English Riviera.
Reports of the time showed that this inaugural event was a great success, and-aside from breaks during WWII and the Suez Crisis in 1957-the RAC Rally went from strength to strength following a similar format until the 1960s. The introduction of Scandinavian-style forest stages at this point earned the rally a reputation as being one of the toughest on the calendar and in 1973 it became a permanent fixture on the newly created FIA World Rally Championship, featuring every year since.
As Hugh Chambers, CEO of Motorsport UK and the organiser of Wales Rally GB commented, “Only the Monte Carlo Rally can boast a longer or richer pedigree than Rally GB and only Finland has also retained a place on every World Rally Championship calendar—it’s this incredible esteem and heritage which make this historic event, in all its guises, so special.”
With so many years of competitive rallying heritage, the Wales Rally GB has some fascinating statistics to draw on: for example, the gravel forest stages and wintry conditions suited the Nordic drivers down to a tee and only Roger Clark’s victories in 1972 and 1976 upset an impressive 30-year-long winning streak. In later years the victor’s podium has seen winners from other nations too, with Colin McRae taking three titles in 1994, 1995 and 1997 and Richard Burns completing a hat-trick of wins between 1998 and 2000.
The most successful driver to have competed in the Wales Rally GB is Sébastien Ogier with a record five wins to his name while Hannu Mikkola and Petter Solberg share second spot with four wins each. Over the years Ford and Subaru have accumulated the most manufacturer wins with 15 and 9 respectively. This year spectators will be treated to more on-the-limit racing action over 21 rally stages as well as a celebratory display of historically significant Ford Escorts, Group B machines and victorious cars rallied by British champs Colin McRae and Richard Burns.
“While continuing to innovate and keeping the event fresh for both competitors and visitors, we are proud of the rally’s unique place in the sport’s history and will be celebrating that with this special 75th-anniversary showcase at Oulton Park in October,” said Chambers. The Wales Rally GB takes place between 3 and 6 October and further information and tickets can be found on the official website.
Images courtesy of Wales Rally GB