Free view’ at the Wales Rally GB

 start and finish ceremonies

 Cardiff City Centre will host a spectacular ‘free view’ sports extravaganza on Thursday 4 December, when celebrity guests join world champions at the official start of the 2008 Wales Rally GB.

Located on King Edward VIII Avenue, adjacent to Winter Wonderland and Cardiff City Hall, the all-free rally entertainment begins at 4.30pm when the world’s top rally drivers – including five-times World Champion Sébastien Loeb, four-times Wales Rally GB winner Petter Solberg and defending Wales Rally GB champion Mikko Hirvonen – will meet fans and sign autographs until 5pm.

Fans will also be able to meet Olympic gold medal winner Geraint Thomas.  The Cardiff-born cyclist broke the world record in the Team Pursuit Final at the Beijing Olympics, and he’ll be signing autographs with the WRC drivers and will cycle over the start ramp before the first WRC car.

Between 5-5.30pm, Britain’s top rally drivers and the leading competitors in the FIA Production World Rally Championship will be available for autographs, before the spotlight moves to the start ramp itself.  The first of 86 competing cars will be flagged away at 6pm, with celebrity guests and the world’s press beaming pictures all over the world.

There will also be an opportunity for fans to buy the official 2008 Wales Rally GB merchandise, with the full range of high-quality items available at the Ceremonial Start.

Viewing is completely free, but for those who’d like to get a little closer to the action a new Ceremonial Start hospitality package is available at a cost of £55 (+VAT) per person. This includes an invitation to the official VIP champagne reception, canapes, a complimentary Wales Rally GB programme and access to a VIP enclosure adjacent to the start ramp.

Rally cars and drivers will return to King Edward VIII Avenue on Sunday 7 December, when the official champagne-spraying Finish Ceremony takes place.  The winners of the 2008 Wales Rally GB will drive onto the finish ramp at 2.50pm, with celebrity guests there to congratulate them at the end of a hard-fought event.  Once again, viewing is completely free of charge.

“With the world’s top rally drivers, cars, special celebrity guests and Winter Wonderland outside Cardiff City Hall, there is always a great atmosphere at the Ceremonial Start,” said Andrew Coe, chief executive of Wales Rally GB. “I’d recommend families arrive early and make the most of the opportunity to meet the drivers, get their autographs and then enjoy the special events we have planned on the start ramp. Then, on Sunday 7 December, we’ll invite fans to cheer the winners back at the traditional champagne-spraying Finish Ceremony.”

To keep up to date with news and information about Wales Rally GB visit www.walesrallygb.com or to book tickets for the special stages and the Cardiff Stage at the Millennium Stadium (on Saturday 6 December) call the booking hotline on 0844 8472251. To get the best prices on tickets purchase them before 6 December.Ends.

Since its inception in 1932 the rally has been run 63 times; this year's event will be the 64th edition. Enforced stoppages have included World War 2, Suez Crisis (1957) and Foot and Mouth (1967).

Wales Rally GB is the British and final round of the 15-round FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). It is one of only four events that have retained their unbroken World Championship status since the WRC was established in 1973.

Cardiff first hosted the rally in 2000 and the Welsh Assembly Government has been the main sponsor of the event since 2003. The City and County of Swansea has provided the Service Park since 2001.

WRGB is the finale of the Tesco 99 Octane British Rally Championship (rounds six and seven) and the eighth and final round of the FIA Production World Rally Championship.

Wales Rally GB is held annually and is the UK’s biggest motor sport event. It is organised and promoted by International Motor Sports Ltd (IMS), the commercial arm of the Berkshire-based Motor Sports Association (MSA), the governing body for all UK motor sport.

For 2008 Wales Rally GB has become the first round of the World Rally Championship to offset all its carbon emissions, including all spectator travel. The event has been awarded CarbonNeutral® event status, confirming that the event’s carbon footprint is now ‘net zero’.

Access to all 19 special stages is by ticket.  Buy tickets in advance for the best value for money:

by calling the ticket hotline on 0844 847 2251 online via the official website: walesrallygb.comor in person from Ticketline, 47 Westgate Street, Cardiff, CF10 1TL