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Loeb searches for victory in hunt for crown; POST FOCUS ON WALES RALLY GB Sebastian targets Llandudno win.

Byline: JOHN EVANS

THE World Rally Championship rolls into Llandudno today as Wales Rally GB hosts the British round of the top rallying championship in the world.

Llandudno will welcome the rally crews and there will be an open autographing session at Venue Cymru between 5.30pm and 6pm with a ceremonial start on the promenade at 7pm tonight.

Competitors in the international event will then leave Llandudno at 6am tomorrow, heading to Dyfnant Forest near Corris, Mid Wales for the first stage. The action tomorrow takes in two running of Dyfnant, Hafren and Myherin forests including the spectator friendly Sweet Lamb Rallying Complex near Aberystwyth before heading to Cardiff for an overnight halt.

The action on Saturday and Sunday is centred on South Wales before the finish in Cardiff city centre. Crews will tackle 19 special stages almost exclusively on gravel and loose surfaced roads as they battle for glory.

Also running on the same billing is the Wales Rally GB National, a clubman rallying event which uses a single run through each of the stages used by the WRC crews, giving nine special stages in total. The national rally contingent commences from Newtown tomorrow morning.

Ace Tom Cave The main battle in Wales Rally GB will be amongst the Works drivers and teams with Citroen's Sebastian Loeb looking for a win in Wales to boost his prospects of taking a ninth World Rally championship title and his team, Citroen looking for just six points from the event to seal their eighth manufacturer's title.

Out to spoil the party will be last year's Wales Rally GB winner, Jari-Matti Latvala, the young Finnish driver competing for the Ford World Rally team and Latvala will be looking for a repeat of his stunning performance in 2011 when he stole the victory from Loeb.

Although there are realistically only a small handful of serious contenders for the main title, there is a plethora of emerging young talent taking part in the WRC this year, all vying to get the attention of the senior teams and the chance to compete at the highest level for next season and certainly worth watching closely.

Mid-Walian Tom Cave of Aberdyfi and co-driver Craig Parry of Oswestry are seeded 34th in their S2000 class works backed Proton Satria Neo S2000. Tom, 20, is currently third in the British Rally Championship and won the Rally of Thailand earlier this year clearly marking his arrival on the International stage. This will be the fourth appearance for Tom on the Wales Rally GB.

The number of local crews competing in the National rally this year is down as the move from November to September means the rally falls into the domestic rallying season with the Welsh National Rally Championship, The British Trial and Rally Drivers Association (BTRDA) and the British Rally Championships yet to finish.

Notwithstanding this, there are a number of North Wales based crews taking part.

Alistair Dodd of Corwen will co-drive for Lewis Roper in a Nissan Micra. Dodd had an exceptional year in 2011 in the ANWCC Stage Rally Co-Drivers Championship, the S1000 and F1000 Forestry Co-Drivers Championships.

Clwyd Vale Motor Club's Dafydd Gwynedd of Ruthin will be co-driving for Joe Taylor of Huddersfield, in a Peugeot 106. History student Gwynedd, 20, is taking a break from his studies to take part in one of the top events in the calendar, and the youngster is no stranger to the classic Welsh stages, having co-driven previously on the Cambrian and Quinton rallies.

Gwynedd said: "About a month ago, I had the offer from Joe to do the National Event of the Rally GB, and was excited straight away of the opportunity, and ready to fulfil a lifelong dream to compete on the same stages as the world's best drivers."

Father and daughter, Richard and Sarah Ceen of Wrexham will be out to beat brother Bob in a family battle for honours in the National event.

Richard and Sarah will compete in the Ford Focus WRC, whilst Bob, who currently sits in third place in the MSA Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship, will be in a Subaru Impreza WRC.

The event may have moved date in the calendar, but one thing for sure is there is plenty for Welsh rallying fans to cheer about.

For further details see the event website at www.walesrallygb.com

CAPTION(S):

Sebastian Loeb in action in his Seat in last year's Wales Rally GB
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 13, 2012
Words:742
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