Saturday sees reigning Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Champions Luke Francis and John H Roberts commence defence of their title on the Cambrian Rally, reports Peter Hughes.
The Llandudno based event is the first of eight rounds in the 2017 series. Last year was a bumper one in terms of entries and the competitiveness of the title fight.
With Pirelli back on board as title sponsors for another season early indications are that this season should match if not better it.
Luke and John will be out in their Mitsubishi Evo IX and face opposition this weekend from at least one other former Welsh champion, in the shape of Connor McCloskey who is partnered by John Rowan in his Ford Fiesta WRC. The R5+ Fiesta of Callum Black and Elliott Edmondson should also be on the pace.
Others looking for top Championship honours include Lampeter duo Dylan Davies and Llion Williams while Andy Davies and Max Freeman also line up in a Subaru Impreza as do Nev Jones and Chris Davies along with Keith Parry and Eryl Evans.
The two wheel drive category looks set to be close fought once again this season and among the front runners expect to see with the BMW Compact of Colin and Martin Griffiths among the more distinctive contenders.
They can expect stiff opposition from the ranks of Ford Escorts including those of John Rowland and Glen Latham as well as championship stalwarts Rob Dennis and Andrew Boswell.
There will be an added incentive this year for drivers in the junior category with the news that the top driver under 23 at the end of the season will receive a free entry on the National Rally at Wales Rally GB as part of the Road to Wales initiative of the World Rally Championship rounds organisers, IMS.
Once again hi-tech lubricant manufacturers Ravenol will run their Welsh Challenge in conjunction with the Championship with a lucrative prize fund on offer to competitors through the course of the season based on their performance within their classes.
This may be just the start of a season that takes competitors round Wales all the way through to November but there can be few better ways to start things off than in the classic Welsh stages offered by the Cambrian Rally.
The first car will leave Llandudno Promenade at 7:30 am to tackle six competitive stages before returning to the sea front a little before 4:30 pm.
You can find full spectator information on the event web site, cambrianrally.co.uk and there is more information about the Championship on its web site, http://www.wnrc.wamc.org.uk, on the Facebook page and on Twitter @WnRC.
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