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Commonwealth Games 2002

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Thursday, 22 November, 2001, 12:02 GMT
Thousands descend on sports capital
Colin McRae and Richard Burns
Colin McRae and Richard Burns are fighting for the title
Cardiff is playing host to a busy schedule of championship sport and drivers are being warned not to get caught out as thousands of fans descend on the capital.

Over the weekend, the climax of the Network Q Rally of Great Britain will be taking place across south Wales, while the world rugby champions Australia are at the Millennium Stadium on Sunday to take on Wales.

To accomodate these events, the civic centre area of the city will be closed, and park-and-ride schemes and shuttle services have been set up to cut down disruption.

World Rally Championship
The rally will climax in the south Wales forest stages
However, the events have not been helped by the closure, on Sunday, of the railway line between Bridgend and Swansea.

Bus services will be laid on, but travellers are warned that spaces are likely limited.

"We are encouraging people to use public transport if possible," said Paul Jenkins, head of marketing and tourism at Cardiff county Council.

"The rally and the game are both major international events and give Cardiff and Wales the profile that we need," he continued.

"It's our job as a county council working with our partners such as South Wales Police, to make sure we can accomodate all these events."

Second time

It is the second year that the rally has been held in Cardiff, after the city secured a three-year hosting deal for the event.

The Network Q Rally is one of Britain's most popular spectator events, with an estimated 200,000 people watching live, and countless more around the globe.

Nicky Grist
Colin Mc Rae's Welsh co-driver Nicky Grist
"The world coverage of rallying is booming as never before, and radio audiences are up five times compared to last year," said BBC world rally commentator Greg Strange.

And the fierceness of the competition has also increased interest.

"It is the most exciting finale for the championship in years and years, with four men, including two Brits, who could win the world title," said Mr Strange.

Welsh eyes will also be on current leader Colin McRae, who has Welshman Nicky Grist as his co-driver.

Welsh winner

Grist could be a world champion within days, but the organisers feel that Wales is already the winner.

"Cardiff is a major event destination," said Jonathon Jones, Chief Executive of the Wales Tourist Board.

"In the long term, if you talk about the Ryder Cup bringing in at least 100m, we must be talking of many millions being brought in by this event," he said.

"It shows what can be done when you get people working in partnership.

"The Tourist Board, the WDA and Cardiff city council have fought for this and we must try and make the event our own."

The Network Q Rally of Great Britain starts on 22 November, with live coverage on BBC1, BBC Radio Five Live and BBC Sport Online.

BBC Wales's Bob Humphreys
"The Network Q rally might start with a speed stage in Cardiff..."
See also:

22 Nov 01 | World Rally 2001
Rally season reaches climax
20 Nov 01 | World Rally 2001
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Skoda announce new drivers
27 Jun 01 | Wales
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