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Two-litre era draws to a close

Sebastien LoebThe current era of World Rally Cars will draw to a close on next month's Wales Rally Great Britain, with 15 cars starting the Cardiff-based event.

Next year's revised technical regulations mean the end of the road for cars like the Citroen C4 WRC, Ford Focus RS WRC and the Subaru Impreza WRC - all of which will be represented in Wales from November 11-14.

Today's two-litre specification of cars has stood since the start of the 1997 season, but next year World Rally Cars will run with 1.6-litre engines and with radically down-sized levels of transmission technology.

Seven-time world champion Sebastien Loeb will start first on the road on the final round of this year, with Sebastien Ogier making his third appearance of the season in the Citroen Total World Rally Team.

Loeb's team-mate from the last round in Catalunya, Dani Sordo, steps back to the Citroen Junior Team, where he will partner Kimi Raikkonen.

Ford's factory team remains identical, with Mikko Hirvonen, Jari-Matti Latvala and Khalid Al Qassimi running in the BP Abu Dhabi cars. Matthew Wilson and Henning Solberg make up the Stobart team - where they are joined in a one-off drive for Chinese Liu Chao Dong.

Ken Block fields his Monster Focus and Petter Solberg runs his own C4 WRC. Mads Ostberg is the sole Subaru Impreza WRC on the entry list.

Further down the field, there are healthy entries in both the Super 2000 and Production Car World Rally Championships. In the S-WRC, Xevi Pons, Martin Prokop, Jari Ketomaa and Patrik Sandell all chase the title while in the conventional Group N class, only Patrik Flodin can stop Armindo Araujo taking back-to-back titles.

Solberg has the strongest Rally GB record of any driver on the entry list, with four wins. Loeb has won twice, including last year and Hirvonen has won once.

Rally GB starts from Cardiff Bay on the evening of Thursday November 11.

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