HEREFORD-based rally driver Simon Dalton will be looking to impress at this year's Wales Rally GB.

Dalton is an early entrant for the event alongside co-driver Jamie Vaughan in their Subaru Impreza, writes Paul Willetts.

The organisers of this year's rally have made some changes to make it spectator friendly, but still provide a very tough challenge for competitors in both International and National events.

The event's ceremonial start will take place from Liverpool's Unesco World Heritage site on the Thursday afternoon.

Drivers will then head to the first of two brand new stages, at the iconic Oulton Park race circuit near Chester later in the day.

The stage will feature a mixture of tarmac and gravel,

This year's event consists of 22 tests totalling some 313 kilometres of action.

Also new for 2019 is the location of a new service area in Llandudno town centre, replacing the Deeside service area at the Toyota engine plant.

But with all the new exciting plans comes with a tinge of sadness, when the legendary Petter Solberg says farewell to spectators, together with his co-driver Phil Mills.

Solberg senior will be joined on the start list by his son Oliver who is making a real name in the sport, and he will drive a Polo R5.

"Its going to be emotional for me," said Solberg

"I didn't just want to put out a press release, I wanted to get out there and do what I've always done all my life and give the spectators something to smile about, especially with Oliver doing the rally as well, but he's not allowed to beat me."

After Thursday's opening test, day two of the event will see a new loop in North Wales, with the forests of Elsi and Penmachno.

The race will then head south for Dyfnant and Aberhirnant before returning to Llandudno for service before heading back out for a repeat loop.

The second loop will include a Slate Mountain test before Dyfnant and Aberhirnant will then run in darkness, adding to the atmosphere, before the end of day service back in Llandudno.

Saturday's loop takes on its usual format minus the Gartheniog stage,with Dyfi opening proceedings before moving on to Myherin and Hafren.

The race will include the popular Newtown re-group, before a repeat loop of Myherin and Hafren before the second run of Dyfi.

The Saturday will finish with a second special evening stage on the seafront at Colwyn Bay.

Sunday's final loop will again take place in the North Wales forests, with the notoriously slippery tests in Alwen and Brenig, before a trip around the Llandudno headland of the Great Orme.

The final two tests will see a return of the morning loop of Alwen and Brenig, with the later being the Power Stage, before the finish back in Llandudno.

Again this year's World Championship looks like it could go down to the wire yet again with Ott Tanak, Thierry Neuville and reigning champion Sebastian Ogier all very much in the mix.

British interest this year will be boosted by the return of Irishman Craig Breen in a works Hyundai.

He will be joined by fellow countryman Kris Meeke in the Yaris WRC, while Welshman Elfyn Evans can never be discounted on home soil.

The very popular National rally will run over eight tests giving some 83 miles on the Friday and Saturday.

Amongst the early entrants are local crews Dalton and Vaughan in their Subaru Impreza.

Ludlow duo Perry Gardner and Keaton Williams will also be looking to impress in their TNT Tyres Fiesta R2.

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