Jardine joins rally stars
Sky Sports' analyst competes in final round of World Championships
Last Updated: 08/11/11 4:38pm
Tony Jardine (left) and Bob McKenzie prepare for the Wales Rally GB
Sky Sports' Formula 1 analyst Tony Jardine competes in this weekend's Wales Rally GB, the final round of the World Rally Championship.
Jardine teams up with co-driver Bob McKenzie to tackle the 23 gruelling special stages of the Welsh forests, starting on Thursday and finishing on Sunday.
But while the duo's key focus is to complete the 354km of competitive stages, seven times World Champion Sebastian Loeb will go head-to-head with Ford's Mirkko Hirvonen in an epic 2011 title decider.
After 12 rounds, just eight points separate the two drivers with Loeb leading the way over his Finnish adversary.
This year's Wales Rally GB sees the return of classic stages such as Great Orme and Sweet Lamb, but a key draw for the loyal British fans will be the return of Mini to top flight rallying, with rising Northern Irish star Kris Meeke behind the wheel.
Meanwhile, Jardine returns to action in the Sky Bet ProSpeed run Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX with journalist McKenzie acting as co-driver. The pair will look to improve on their 1993 experience, when the pair battled through heavy snow and icy conditions to finish 37th overall.
McKenzie, The Daily Express' F1 correspondent, who was coaxed out of retirement, was upbeat about the team's chances on the rally: "I was throwing out my old race suit and helmet when I received a phone call from TJ asking If I would co-drive for him on Wales Rally GB.
"He doesn't take 'no' for an answer, but then I don't remember actually saying 'yes' either. But it was great to get back in the car at Silverstone and get some practice in on their rally stage."
Jardine added: "We've got some fantastic stages ahead of us and a return to classics such as Dyfi and Clocaenog.
"I managed to get a little bit of four-wheel-drive experience on the rally stage today and it was a welcome return. My previous rallies have been in ProSpeed run Ford Fiestas however, a step up to a relative supercar, with a turbocharged four-wheel-drive Mitsubishi, is a challenge in itself for Bob and I."
The final round of the World Rally Championship is expected to draw a large crowd.
After the running of three competitive stages on Thursday, the official opening ceremony will take place on Conwy Quay, Llandudno shortly after 6pm, with the rally finishing on the Monument stage on Sunday afternoon.
ESPN will be showing a 30 minute highlights show of each day's action throughout the weekend, starting at 11pm on Friday. Sunday will also feature live coverage of the 'Power Stage' at 12noon.