WALES Rally GB got underway today with the Shakedown stage in Clocaenog Forest.
The stage is a favourite with fans eager to watch the best drivers in the world take their high performance rally cars around the gravel and mud tracks through the trees.
Conditions were described as damp and greasy but they are expected to improve as the event continues.
Northern Ireland's Kris Meeke is bidding to conclude the career of one of the most successful cars in FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) history with a first home victory in 16 years on this week's Dayinsure Wales Rally GB.
Last year, Meeke ended a decade-and-a-half podium drought for British drivers on home turf by speeding to the runner-up spoils in Wales behind multiple world champion Sébastien Ogier.
This time around, he is firmly focused on turning the tables and emulating his former mentor Colin McRae, who won the event back in 1997, wowing the then teenage Meeke who was attending his first RAC Rally as a spectator.
“I’ll never forget it,” he enthused.
“I was over with the Queens University Motor Club. Everything I’d read about this event, everything I’d thought and hoped for, it was all there. It was perfect.
“Rally GB is fantastic. I’m not just saying that because it’s my home event – it’s true.
"It’s everything in the way the place gets your senses going – the smell of mud on the hot exhaust, the smell of the pine trees, the changing colours in the trees and the unpredictable weather. It’s everything – especially the roads.
"These are the roads I drove my first-ever rally on, so they’re always going to be special to me. I love it from the minute I get to the first stage on the recce. It just means something a little bit more at home."
Meeke added: “What you get is that little something that says you’re competing in front of your home fans on some of the best stages in the world.
"Irish Corner in the Dyfnant stage is absolutely epic. Those guys have worked so hard at making it something special and it really is – it’s amazing to come through and see that much support, the flags and banners and the klaxons going, but to be honest, it’s like that the whole way along the route.
"The fans are definitely coming back into the forests now.”
The rally continues until Sunday.