What rallying lacks in glamour it makes up for in spectacle. Nowhere is this more true than the soggy forest tracks of Wales, which will host the penultimate round of the 2017 WRC this weekend (October 26 to 29.) Bitingly cold, relentlessly wet, and unremittingly Welsh, Wales Rally GB is perhaps the finest motorsport event to take place on the British Isles.
It covers around a thousand miles, nearly 200 of which will be on competitive, timed stages. The rest of the distance is covered on public roads, at legal speeds and with helmets removed - crews must obey the Highway Code as they make their way from one timed section to another.
The leading car is driven by Sébastien Ogier and co-driven by fellow Frenchman Julien Ingrassia. Currently in second are the Estonians, Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja. Behind them are Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul, two Belgians.
The leading British car is driven by Elfyn Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt in sixth. Chris Meeke and Irish co-driver Paul Nagle are in ninth.
Wales has some of the most treacherous stages in the WRC calendar, with fast courses bordered on both sides by steep ditches, huge piles of logs, dense forests and thickets of vegetation. It’s impossible to know fully what surfaces to expect, but a combination of wet mud, frozen gravel, and general all-round filth make this a mucky component of the WRC calendar.
The drivers will need to be hardy, but so too will the spectators. The unpredictable British weather combined with the fundamental inaccessibility of some of the stages means that many people hoping to get close to the action will probably walk for a mile or more through rain-soaked undergrowth before being able to open their Thermos.
For 2017, the organisers are returning to legendary stages such as Sweet Lamb, Myherin and Hafren, as well as the popular family-friendly stages at Cholmondeley Castle (£23 in advance). There'll also be a brand new spectator stage for this year's event, held at Tir Prince Raceway, near Rhyl. This new stage will open the competition on Thursday night and promises to add a slightly more accessible dynamic to an event better known for its die-hard, Bovril-swigging fans.
The service park - where rally teams have their 'base' during an event - is in Deeside. This is another opportunity for fans to get close to the cars without having to stomp through the forest. Easily accessible by rail, and offering an intimate view of teams and garages simply not found in other motorsports, Deeside service park is free to visit.
If you want full access for the whole four-day weekend, the tickets cost £99. Otherwise, pay £28 a day for access. Young people under the age of 15 go free, but must be accompanied by an adult. There ceremonial finish in Llandudno on Sunday is also free to attend.