Tonight’s the night: the 74th edition of Dayinsure Wales Rally GB kicks off with tonight’s rally-opening spectator stage at Tir Prince Raceway. From there, three more days of action will commence, culminating in a total of 318.34 race kilometers and just over 1,400 kilometers of total distance including transport stages. It’s one of the most historic and respected events on the World Rally Championship calendar, and as a traditional late-season round, usually plays a big part in determining the year’s champions.
As we get ready for 23 stages of racing action, there are plenty of interesting stories to follow with only three rounds left in the WRC season. Here are three of the biggest ones that should shape this weekend’s results:
How will M-Sport World Rally Team perform at its home event?
Malcolm Wilson’s squad finds itself at a crossroads coming into Wales this weekend. Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia will leave the team after the season for a return to Citroen, while defending event winners Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt have only taken a single podium in 2018 in Portugal. Top prospects Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula were third that weekend in the team’s only double podium of the season. Somebody needs to step up this weekend.
Will Ott Tanak’s second-half surge prove championship-worthy?
Moving to Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team over the offseason gave Tanak and Martin Jarveoja the chance to be a number one crew, and they’ve done just that by posting a WRC-leading four victories so far this season. The past three have come in consecutive, but very different, events: the ultra-fast gravel roads in Finland, the paved stages of Germany, and the revived, high-attrition event in Turkey. Now within 13 points of the championship lead, are leaders Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul worried?
Can Pontus Tidemand right the ship in his quest for another WRC-2 title?
Facing off with Skoda Motorsport teammates Jan Kopecky and Pavel Dresler, Tidemand and Jonas Andersson may have given up their bid for back-to-back class titles by failing to finish Rally Turkey. It was the only event of 2018 so far where both crews faced off head-to-head, and Kopecky and Dresler won. Thanks to a runner-up finish in Sweden, even a victory in Wales will leave the defending champions seven points short of the lead. They’ll need to be perfect from here on out to have a shot.