Rally fans flock to Wales for championship finale

Sebastien Ogier of France Sebastien Ogier of France drives his Citroen Total C4 during the "shakedown" stage in Cardiff Bay on Wednesday night

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One of the toughest rounds on the world rally championship calendar starts in Cardiff Bay later.

Cars in Wales Rally GB will roar into action with a special competitive stage in the Welsh capital, which is expected to attract hundreds of spectators.

The event also visits the traditional forest tracks of Hafren and Radnor in Powys and Myherin in Ceredigion.

The rally, which will also feature classic cars, ends in Cardiff on Sunday.

It is the final round of the World Rally Championship, which was claimed for a record seventh successive year by Frenchman Sebastien Loeb last month.

A special "shakedown" stage was run in Cardiff Bay on Wednesday evening, which allowed Loeb and his fellow drivers a chance to test their cars.

On Friday, competitors will race the tricky Sweet Lamb, Hafren and Myherin stages, and they will be based at the Royal Welsh Showground in Llanelwedd, Powys.

Armindo Araujo of Portugal Armindo Araujo of Portugal drives the Ralliart Italy Mitsubishi Lancer during the Shakedown for the Wales Rally GB

Saturday also promises to be a testing day for the drivers who will rally in the Radnor Forest, Monument Hill and on the asphalt roads of the Epynt military range at Four Ways Crychan, near Brecon.

On Sunday, the rally moves to Resolfen and Margam Park, ending later in Cardiff.

Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones, who started the shakedown run on Wednesday evening, said: "I pay tribute to everyone whose support ensures the success of the rally, including the hundreds of volunteers and marshals who dedicate their time to the continued pursuit of safety."

Wales Rally GB will feature a mix of modern and historic cars, including a mark two Ford Escort, an Austin Healey 3000 and a Mini Cooper S.

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