For spectator safety and better viewing, the lower tier of the Stadium - scene of the spectacular Wales Grand Slam victory last Saturday - will be removed, but still allowing a potential all-seated audience of 51,000 to see world rally cars in spectacular sideways action at one minute intervals, on the Saturday evening.
Andrew Davies, Minister for Economic Development and Transport said, "I am delighted that the Millennium Stadium will play a key role in one of the most important events in the motor sports calendar. This national icon of Wales has already played host to a wide range of major sporting events, including the FA Cup Final and the Rugby World Cup, and is internationally recognised as a fantastic venue and representative of a confident, dynamic and outward looking country. The decision to hold a key stage of this year's Wales Rally GB at the Stadium will increase our international profile even further."
The "Cardiff Stage" - one of 17 timed to-a-tenth-of-a-second special stages in this year"s 1249 kilometre rally - is scheduled to start at 18.58 hrs on Saturday 17th September.
Councillor Nigel Howells, Cardiff Council's Executive Member for Sport, Leisure and Culture said, "As host city, Cardiff is looking forward to welcoming Wales Rally GB back this year and we're delighted that this year's event will include one of the most unusual stages in the 2005 World Rally Championship. The Millennium Stadium has really helped put Cardiff and Wales on the map, and has built a fantastic reputation for hosting a wide range of sporting events, but a WRC stage will be one of the most challenging and is sure to provide plenty of dramatic action for spectators - and drivers - to enjoy. This year's Rally also looks like being one of the biggest in the 2005 World Rally Championship in terms of entries, and we're hoping that more spectators than ever before will come to South Wales, particularly the Stadium, to enjoy the action."
Andrew Coe, Chief Executive, IMS commented, "On behalf of the organising team of Wales Rally GB I am delighted that we have been able to secure the use of the Cardiff Millennium Stadium, which is a truly world-class spectator facility, for the 2005 event, which will take place between September 15th and 18th. This initiative, which will take the World Rally Championship into a covered arena for what we believe to be the first time in its history, will allow us to introduce rallying to new audiences and help secure the future development and growth of the sport within the UK. It is a hugely exciting development for Wales Rally GB."
Wales Rally GB, round 12 of the 16 round Word Rally Championship will again be an all-ticket event. Ticket prices for the Millennium Stadium and the other 16 special stages, run on Forestry Commission and M.O.D land, will be announced in April. Increased entry capacity provides 40 guaranteed places for non-professional rally drivers from the UK and worldwide. The governing body for world motor sport, the Federation International De L"Automobile (FIA) have approved a request from Wales Rally GB organisers to increase the entry capacity, previously capped at 90 cars, to 120 for 2005.
"This will allow us to accept and guarantee places for 40 non-professional rally drivers alongside the six professional Manufacturer teams who are registered for this years World Championship. To compete on Britain"s round of the FIA World Rally Championship is aspirational for many UK drivers. Now all drivers with an International competition licence can be confident if they submit their entry form and entry fee on time, there will be a place for them." said Fred Gallagher, Clerk of the Course.
Wales Rally GB starts in Cardiff at 19.30 hours on Thursday 15th September and returns to the Welsh capital for the ceremonial Finish, at 14.10 hours on Sunday 18th.