WRGB Countdown

With only 4 weeks to go before the last round of the WRC and the highlight of the season for many - here is a brief history of the last 10 years of Wales Rally GB.

2003 Welsh Assembly Government is new title sponsor. Four drivers in contention for the World Championship; Burns, Loeb, Sainz and Solberg. Burns forced out by illness and replaced by Freddy Loix. Solberg achieves back-to-back victory and secures World Championship. Carlsson wins JWRC but Brice Tirabassi is champion - despite retiring. Makinen announces retirement. Last WRC event for the "classic" Mini. Fastest ever Rally GB; winner's average speed 108.19kph.

2004 Change of date to September does not improve weather conditions, still wet and muddy. Close battle between Loeb and P. Solberg only decided on last forest stage in Solberg's favour.

2005 Close competition in the stages overshadowed on final morning by death of codriver Michael Park. Loeb, voluntarily incurred time penalty (to defer finalising Drivers World Championship) handing a fourth consecutive victory to Petter Solberg. Rally HQ moved to Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, which hosted the first indoor Special Stage.

2006 The 62nd running of the rally and all 17 Special Stages completed without disruption or serious accidents. The final round of the Tesco 99 Octane British Rally Championship, Mitsubishi Evolution Challenge and the Fiesta Sporting Trophy International. Finland's Marcus Grönholm gives BP-Ford their first Rally of Great Britain victory for 27 years, winning the FIA Manufacturers Championship.

2007 The 75th Anniversary event turned out to be one of the wettest on record. Despite this the 3000-strong volunteer Officials saw to it that every one of the 17 timed Special Stages ran on schedule and the 108 starters had no major timing queries. A hard-earned victory went to Mikko Hirvonen, a fourth World Championship to Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena and the Tesco 99 Octane British Championship to Guy Wilks and Phil Pugh.

2008 Event route takes in stages in Sweet Lamb, Myherin and Hafren on Friday but harsh wintry conditions mean these stages are cancelled or shortened. Loeb and Elena take victory and make history as the first crew to win 11 WRC events in a single season. Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen finish eighth in their Ford Focus RS WRC with their single point establishing them as the first to score points on every round of the WRC in a year. Guy Wilks, and Phil Pugh finish 14th and retained their British Championship title. Seventeen year old Tom Cave starts the event with "P" plates on his 1600cc Fiesta after passing his driving test just days before the rally start. Of the 78 starters - representing 28 countries - 47 were classified at the Cardiff finish.

2009 Loeb and Hirvonen seperated by a single point in the Drivers Championship going into the event. Despite mechanical problems for both cars, Loeb claims victory to record a sixth successive championship. Service Park and Rally HQ moved to Cardiff Bay. Rain and gales throughout the 3 days of the event. 62 competitors from 28 countries start the rally with an impressive 50 classified as finishers.

2010 The WRC Drivers' and Manufacturers' titles had already been decided in France in favour of Sébastien Loeb and Citroen Total WRT. So all eyes were on who could take the runner-up spot in the Drivers' Championship. There was a three-way fight between Sébastien Ogier (Citroen Junior), Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford WRT) and Petter Solberg (Citroen privateer). Latvala went into an early lead until a puncture. Gear-shift problems thwarted Solberg's bid for victory and Ogier slid off the road and into retirement in Radnor Forest. Petter took the fight to both Citroen and Ford and was eventually rewarded with a hard-fought second place in Wales. A tactical ploy by Mikko Hirvonen allowed Jari-Matti, his Ford team-mate, up into third place and earnt the young Finn sufficient WRC points to end his season of mixed-fortunes second to Loeb. An all-new National Rally ran over six selected stages on Saturday and Sunday. It attracted 90 applications for the 60 places - and universal praise. It was won by Nigel Griffiths and Jon Scott in a Subaru.

The results of Wales Rally GB confirmed Spain's Xavier Pons as winner of the WRC Super 2000 title and Portugal's Armindo Araujo retained the Production WRC. Germany's Aaron Burkart was declared as Junior WRC Champion on the previous round in Catalunya.

2011 There was a new look to the 67th edition of Rally GB with the 'Sporting' Start in the North Wales resort of Llandudno, a return after 30 years to the ribbon of tarmac around the Great Orme for the opening two special stages followed by a slippery encounter with the gravel roads in Clocaenog forest then on to a hugely popular Opening Ceremony in the lee of Conwy Castle. And all that in just the first afternoon (Thursday) of the four day event!

Friday saw the 74 starters from 32 Countries head south to stages in Dyfi forest, which first welcomed this event 40 years previously and then onto more traditional forests and military roads in mid Wales. The Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells hosted the partially under-cover Service Park and 'hub' of the rally which covered 23 stages and 354 competitive kilometres.

Cardiff welcomed the 40 classified finishers to its castle grounds on Sunday, where Jari-Matti Latvala and co-driver Mikka Anttila were first onto the Finish Ramp in their British-built Fiesta WRC. This was their first WRC win in 2011.

The overall FIA World Rally Championship was decided in favour of Frenchman Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena (Citroen DS3 WRC), despite their retirement on a road section after a head-on collision with a non-competing car early on Sunday's final day. The WRC Academy Cup, with its €500,000 first prize, was won by Irishman Craig Breen, partnered by Welshman, Gareth Roberts.

2012 A September date for Wales Rally GB, with a start along the Llandudno waterfront. Friday and Saturday took in stages in Mid Wales before a return to the South Wales stages of Walters Arena, Rheola and Post Talbot on Sunday. Cardiff, Bay, home to the Service Park, welcomed the overall winners Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikka Antilla in their Ford Fiesta RS WRC on Sunday, followed by Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena in 2nd who had battled throughout the event with 3rd placed Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson. Craig Breen, co-driven by Paul Nagel, won the PWRC battle. The Croeso Trophy, renamed for 2012 in memory of Welsh co-driver Gareth Roberts, was awarded to Sara Williams and Patrick Walsh in the National Rally.

2013 Major changes were introduced to revitalise Wales Rally GB in 2013.

A move to a new service park in Deeside heralded the reintroduction of many of the event's most legendary competitive stages in north Wales - some in Snowdonia run in darkness - as well as some new spectator-friendly RallyFest stages. The result was a resounding success with not only a bumper entry but also huge numbers of fans not experienced in recent years.

With Sébastien Loeb now in retirement, the newly crowned 2013 world champion Sébastien Ogier - competing for the newly formed official VW WRC outfit - underlined his new-found dominance with a maiden win in the challenging Welsh forests. Former F1 star Robert Kubica stepped up a full WRC-spec car for the first time but was among a number of notable crews failing by the wayside.

Home fans, though, had something to celebrate when local hero Elfyn Evans took top honours in the WRC2 category.

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