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World Rally Championship returns to historic Chester

  • Dayinsure Wales Rally GB tops special Chester Rally Week
  • Autograph and selfie sessions on the city’s Eastgate
  • Official rally podium Time Control on Bridge Street
  • Popular pre-rally Forum moves to Chester Racecourse – scene of Colin McRae’s 1995 success

The FIA World Rally Championship will return to the heart of the historic city of Chester for the first time in 20 years on 28 October. The stars and cars from the Dayinsure Wales Rally GB (27-30 October) will visit the iconic walled city having completed their first day of competition in the legendary forests of mid-Wales.
As the climax to a special ‘Chester Rally Week’, the crews will start arriving in Chester at just after 18:30 on the Friday evening, passing under the famous Eastgate Clock – said to be England’s most photographed clock after Big Ben – before stopping for autographs and selfies on Eastgate. Another photo opportunity will follow when the cars proceed over the official Dayinsure Wales Rally GB ramp and through the official Time Control on Bridge Street en route to an overnight halt at the busy Deeside Rally Village in neighbouring Flintshire. Encouraging everyone to come to meet the WRC heroes and share in the high-octane atmosphere, public admission will be totally free of charge.

“It’s going to a fabulous occasion and I’d like to thank all those in Chester who’ve worked so hard to make this possible,” said Ben Taylor, Wales Rally GB Managing Director. “We are constantly looking at exciting new ways to widen the rally’s appeal to both existing fans and new audiences and this special evening in central Chester will certainly do just that. The city has a particularly strong link with the WRC events of the past, so returning to these hallowed streets makes this return all the more exciting.”

Indeed, Chester has long been associated with Britain’s round of the FIA World Rally Championship. It first hosted the Ceremonial Start and Finish back in 1979 – an event won by the legendary ‘Flying Finn’ Hannu Mikkola – and was last included 20 years ago in 1996. Most famously, perhaps, the late, great Colin McRae was crowned as Britain’s first-ever World Rally Champion at Chester Racecourse in 1995.

Honouring that milestone achievement, the traditional pre-event charity Forum – an occasion that always attracts many of the sport’s top names from both past and present generations – will be hosted at the Racecourse on Wednesday 26 October.

The Forum is one of a number of initiatives that will take place in the week of the rally, all of which are designed to celebrate the city’s link with the International Rally of Great Britain – in all its various guises.

“Hosting this element of the event is a huge coup for Chester and we’re delighted to see the Dayinsure Wales Rally GB returning to the city after so many years,” welcomed Carl Critchlow, BID Manager at CH1 Chester BID. “As part of Chester Rally Week, motor sport fans will get the chance to see and meet the drivers, teams and cars from the World Rally Championship, all set against the iconic backdrop of Chester city centre. These rallies attract an international following and we’re expecting thousands of people to visit the city for this special event, providing a significant boost to footfall on our high street.”

“The Chester Growth Partnership is thrilled to have worked with Lightning House to bring Rallyweek to Chester, with the star event being the WRC coming to the city for the first time in nearly 20 years,” added Guy Butler, Chairman Chester Growth Partnership. “This is a great start to what we hope will become a regular event for the city, and thanks must go to the team who have delivered this.”

The competitive route for the 2016 Dayinsure Wales Rally GB (27-30 October) was announced at start of this month when tickets went on sale. Featuring 22 timed Special Stages totalling 208 miles (336 kms) set almost entirely in the classic Welsh forests, this year’s event will be the longest and most challenging since the rally’s successful move in 2013 to its new base in Deeside.

Admission to the Chester Time Control, the Deeside Rally Village, the Ceremonial Start in Eirias Park, Colwyn Bay and Ceremonial Finish in Llandudno are all free of charge. Advance tickets* for the competitive Special Stages are now on sale with significant discounts for those buying now. Adult ticket prices start at just £20 for the family-friendly RallyFest at Cholmondeley Castle with free admission to all 22 speed tests for those aged 15 and under – a real treat for children on half term! Full information on the 2016 rally and ticket offers can be found on the official www.walesrallygb.com website.