Nicky Grist says that this year’s Nicky Grist Stages (Saturday 8 July) route will be ‘more challenging’ than ever before – while the stages through Llyn Login, Crychan, Halfway and Monument have passed a significant number of environmental requirements that will make this year’s event more eco-friendly than ever before.
The stages running through the Crychan and Halfway forests and the Military Training Area over Eypnt are classics. An important consideration when planning the route is the environmental impact the rally has on Sites of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) as these areas are the most important sites for Wales’ natural heritage. They are highly protected to safeguard the range, quality and variety of habitats, species and geological features in all parts of Wales. They are the cornerstones of conservation work, protecting the core of Wales’ natural heritage.
There are more than 1,000 SSSI sites in Wales, covering about 12% of the country’s surface area.
Working with the landowners, local councils and Natural Resources Wales, the Nicky Grist Stages take its responsibilities to protect these sites seriously. This is a fundamental reason for asking spectators to keep to the spectator areas, as roaming through a SSSI could cause untold damage.
The picturesque backdrop to the event’s post-rally podium celebrations sits on the banks of the Rive Wye in Builth Wells and is in fact on the edge of a SSSI. To help protect the wildlife some of the grass may appear uncut and wild, and this is deliberate to protect the local wildlife.
Further information on SSSIs can be found here.
The Nicky Grist Stages is fortunate to have the use of the Groe as its service area venue. It is also the Builth Wells Rugby Football Club pitch and to ensure damage is limited competitors must service on groundsheets, have spill kits available and report damage to the event. Working with the Builth Wells RFC, there will be pre- and post-rally pitch inspections and remedial work carried out to return the pitch to the condition that it was handed over to the event in.
Once again the Nicky Grist Stages is proudly partnered with Carbon Positive Motorsport. This provides carbon offsetting for all competitor, organiser and spectator event vehicles and is part of a long-term roadmap and commitment to mitigate the event’s carbon footprint and reduce the sport’s environmental impact.
This year’s Nicky Grist Stages is a round of six major UK rally championships, namely the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series, Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship, HRCR Rally Master Challenge, IPS Paint Rally Challenge (which raises funds for the Wales Air Ambulance), the ANWCC Rally Championship and, for the first time, the Bowler Defender Challenge.
Nicky Grist, whose Nicky Grist Motorsports operation has sponsored the event for 14 consecutive years, says that the variation to this year’s 44 stage mile route will make it one of the most challenging Nicky Grist Stages ever.
Here Nicky goes through the four stages one by one, starting with Llyn Login which will be the first stage of the event.
“Llyn Login is a great stage to start the event,” says Nicky.
“It’s a lovely smooth, fast and flowing gravel stage, with a short asphalt section in the middle, and definitely not a stage for the faint hearted. It has been the scene of some drama, most notably Ollie Mellor’s accident on the big jump near the start a few years ago. It’s still a spectacular jump, but at least now everyone knows about it!
“The following road section takes crews down through Beulah and towards Llandovery and enters Crychan forest on the western side for a new variation of a fantastic stage. The longest stage of the 2023 event throws everything that a Welsh forest can at a competitor. It’s tight and twisty in places, fast and flowing in others and there are a lot of junctions. With a hard and abrasive surface, tyre management will be important – and it’s fair to say that the rally would be won or lost in Crychan.
“Next up is Halfway, which again is a slight variation to previous years but with many of the classic sections that make this stage so famous remaining. There are narrow bridges, gateways and cattlegrids to negotiate, so plenty to catch crews out if they’re not one hundred percent focused.
“The final stage of the loop is Monument, which is the last stage before midday service in the morning and the last stage before the finish in the afternoon. This is a favourite stage to many, thanks to its lovely cambered corners, tight junctions and a very scenic finish.
“Overall, this year’s route is a little more challenging than last year, so the winners will have to have driven extremely well to come out on top. If conditions are dry, choosing the correct tyres will be paramount to doing well on the 2023 Nicky Grist Stages.”