Rally North Wales offers competitors a first chance to score points in the Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship following the unfortunate cancellation of the opening round, the Cambrian Rally, due to extreme weather conditions.
While reigning champions Luke Francis from Rhuddlan and John H Roberts of Colwyn Bay will be absent a number of crews will be intent on securing maximum points as they launch their Championship challenge, not least Lampeter pairing Dylan Davies and Llion Willliams in their Subaru Impreza.
Others in search of top honours will include Andy Davies and Max Freeman in the Llanarth Auto Services Impreza. In similar Subarus are Nev Jones and Chris Davies and 2016 Championship runners up Wug Utting and Bob Stokoe, who will also be looking to retain their Group N title. Simon Dalton and Steve Turvey will also be Subaru mounted as will youngsters James Watkins and Chris Whittall.
The two wheel drive category looks set to be close fought once again this season and among the front runners expect to see the BMW Compact of Colin and Martin Griffiths among the more distinctive contenders. Their rivals will include Bala’s John Rowlands and co-driver Glenn Latham in their Ford Escort along with the similar car of Ieaun Rowlands and Emyr Hall. Watch out too for the crowd pleasing, Toyota engined Ford Ka of Alun Roberts and Rhodri Evans.
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. The classic North Wales stages this weekend will be the perfect preparation for whoever is the ultimate winner of that prize.
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.
The first car will leave the start line on Saturday morning at Gwyndaf Evans Motors in Dolgellau at 09:00 hours with the rest of the crews flagged away at minute intervals. Details of the tree spectator car parks on the route, which will be familiar to followers of Wales Rally GB can be found on the event website, rallynorthwales.co.uk.
The Championship contenders may have had to wait a little longer than usual to get their campaigns underway but the battle looks set to be closer and more exciting than ever.