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  Thursday, 14 November, 2002, 21:57 GMT
Fans flock to rally extravaganza
Tommi Makinen at the Super Special
Tommi Makinen thrills the crowds in Cardiff

The Network Q Rally of Great Britain roared into Cardiff, bringing with it thousands of excited rally fans.

Many had ventured into the Welsh capital city earlier in the evening, for a rare chance to see the cars that were poised to battle it out in the first Super Special stage.

One of the city's main roads was closed in order to combine the start of the rally with the switching on of the Christmas lights.

Open in new window  :  GB Rally stage guide

Fans from abroad and all over Britain examined the primed machines, as they individually paraded up the street in a display of mechanical might.

Many of the fans themselves looked worthy of a place in the driving seat as they mirrored their idols by kitting themselves out in the various manufacturers' attire.

Sponsor caps and official jackets merged together to create a colourful stream as fans then began to make their way down to the purpose built circuit in Cardiff Bay.

Free buses were provided to ferry the rally enthusiasts to the event.

As the estimated 15,000 fans filtered their way in, they were greeted with the sight of a gladiatorial-like arena.

Cars were set to battle against each other and the clock, as they tackled the one and a half miles of ravenous mud tracks, jumps and water splashes.

As the fans took their places in the designated embankments and stands, the anticipation grew.

Colin McRae in his Ford
Colin McRae speeds around the Cardiff circuit
Jeered on by the hoots of fog horns, the fans waved flags and cheered as the cars entered - it was now the turn of the drivers to illuminate the cold, black night.

One by one, the cars lined up at the start/finish line. The powerful screams of the engines matched by the cheers of the crowd.

As the cars raced around, the exuberant hoards watched in child-like amazement. Each twist and skid followed as if they were in control.

Indeed the biggest cheers came when drivers lost control for a split second, hitting the side of the dividers and sending a wave of mud over the barriers.

As the cars come to the end of their designated two laps, the entertainment reaches its pinnacle.

There can only be one winner from that race, but for the fans, they have another chance to re-live the excitement as another two chariots prepare to do battle seconds later.

The Super Special kicked off the 58th Rally of Great Britain in spectacular fashion.

If the next three days of competition are the same as this, then the adrenaline will undoubtedly be pumping throughout the Principality.

RALLY GB STAGE GUIDE
SEASON SO FAR
TOP TEAMS AND DRIVERS


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