Weather and discovery of human remains threatened WRC Rally GB

The entire final day of Rally GB came close to being cancelled due to a combination of the extreme weather and the discovery of human remains close to the route

Weather and discovery of human remains threatened WRC Rally GB

While the hurricane-force winds and incessant rainfall had been a concern all week, the biggest threat to the World Rally Championship's last day of 2015 came when a spectator erecting a tent next to the Brenig stage on Saturday night found a skeleton.

REPORT: Volkswagen's Ogier secures sombre Rally GB victory

Police established an exclusion area 300 metres from junction six on Brenig - which was used as both the leg opener and the powerstage on Sunday.

Organisers came up with a possible route that would have reduced the six-mile stage to two miles, but were concerned the whole stage would have been declared inaccessible.

That would have forced the abandonement of the following Alwen stage too, leaving only the short Great Orme stage - from which spectators had to be barred due to the very strong winds.

Rally chief Ben Taylor told Autosport: "We were working with the police and our police liason officers into the early hours.

"If the police had come back and told us the whole area was out of bounds, there was nothing we could do.

"The next concern was that if Brenig was cancelled, we would have to cancel Alwen because there simply wouldn't be room for all the spectators to come out of Brenig and go into one stage.

"So that left us with the Great Orme, a stage which we'd had to clear of spectators because of the gale-force winds.

"Losing the final day was a very real possibility for some time late Saturday night and into Sunday morning."

Ultimately, with the co-operation of the police and swift work from the organisers and Natural Resources Wales workers in clearing felled trees in both Brenig and Alwen, the day ran without any interruptions.

"I can't say enough about the way everybody in this event has pulled together and worked to keep the rally running," said Taylor.

"It's truly humbling to have seen everybody so determined to get through problem after problem."

THE CHALLENGES RALLY GB FACED

Sunday November 8
Rally organisers arrive on Deeside and start to set up the service park at the Toyota plant. Prolonged and heavy rain partially floods the site through the day.

Monday November 9
Work begins in the forests, with stage furniture being put in place, but the marshals have to follow Natural Resources Wales workers out of the woods due to the high winds. The Sweet Lamb stage equipment is set up and blown down three times.

Tuesday November 10
The strong winds continue to hamper efforts to get the stages set up, with the added complication of the recce starting. Again, workers in Dyfi and Gartheiniog have to leave due to the risk of trees falling.

Wednesday November 11
With no let up in the rain there is increasing concern over flooding in some of the stages. The organisers are now monitoring key points along the route - many of which are becoming marginal.

Thursday November 12
Unseasonably warm sunshine at shakedown gives way to driving rain and high winds in time for the ceremonial start in Llandudno.

Friday November 13
Friday the 13th is relatively quiet, with intermittent rain through the day. The organisers are, however, braced for the tail end of a hurricane coming through the region over the weekend.

Saturday November 14
The rain returns on the stages and, with winds of 75mph expected on Dyfnant and Aberhirnant, serious consideration is given to cancelling the night stages. A last-minute decision means the stages run to widespread appreciation.

At 2200, however, the call comes from Brenig that the police have moved in to investigate the discovery of what is believed to human remains.

Sunday November 15
At around 0100, the green light is given for Rally GB to go ahead on the planned route. Half-an-hour later the first reports arrive from the Clocaenog area of wind damage to the trees in both the Brenig and Alwen stages.

Taylor receives a call at 0445 from the service park manager to warn of significant damage in the service park.

At 0700, as the first cars start to arrive on the Great Orme, the headland stage has to be closed due to Gale Force Eight winds being registered in the spectator zones.

The service park is closed to the public, but finally opened at 1100 when the wind eases and allows Sunday ceremonial finish to go ahead as planned.

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