Following the enforced curtailment of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series and Motorsport UK 2020 English Rally Championship in association with Seacon, the BTRDA is looking forward to the 2021 season with renewed vigour and is pleased to announce a well-spaced calendar of events next year that runs from mid-February until the end of September.Continue reading
The Nicky Grist Stages is set to return to the classic mid-Wales forestry stages on Saturday 10 July 2021, following the cancellation of this year’s event. Quinton Motor Club had originally planned to run the event – which is a five time winner of the BTRDA ‘Rally of the Year’ award – on Saturday 11 July, but owing to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, the event was postponed until Saturday 28 November.Continue reading
This weekend won’t be the feast of MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series and Pirelli Motorsport UK Welsh Forest Rally Championship competition that we had all been looking forward to – with the previously announced postponement of this Saturday’s Nicky Grist Stages.
As one by one rallies around the UK have sadly fallen victim to the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, Quinton Motor Club still hopes to run its Builth Wells-based event later in the year – on Saturday 28 November.
The route is planned, with 43 stage miles on smooth gravel roads on Natural Resources Wales and Landmarc Military Of Defence land in and around the Epynt ranges.
And 2020 is a special year, as the event celebrates 40 years as a forestry rally – having been given its first forest allocation back in 1980.
This year is also the 33rd consecutive time that the Nicky Grist Stages has hosted a round of the BTRDA Series – winning the ‘Rally of the Year’ award five times, including last year – and the 11th consecutive year of support and title sponsorship from Nicky Grist Motorsports, of which we are tremendously grateful.
“We continue to monitor the effects that the Covid-19 outbreak is having on both rallying and the wider community extremely closely,” says Neil Cross, the Nicky Grist Stages Clerk of the Course.
“We have an organising team that’s raring to go, a smooth and challenging route, a new date in November and competitors who are very keen to get back out on the stages. Like so many other sporting events that are on hold at the moment, we are ready to get on with it.
“However, we are bound by the guidelines set by Motorsport UK and both the central and devolved governments, and these three authorities will ultimately determine whether the Nicky Grist Stages is allowed to take place in November or not.
“As an event organiser, our hands are tied – but these are extraordinary circumstances and all we can do is keep reviewing the official guidelines and act accordingly.”
This summer’s Nicky Grist Stages, which was scheduled to take place on Saturday 11 July, has been postponed – owing to a number of key logistical issues directly caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The event organiser, Quinton Motor Club, is hoping to run the 2020 event later in the year, and is working on an alternative date in late November.
This year’s Nicky Grist Stages celebrates the 40th anniversary of the first running of the event as a forestry rally, having been held for the first time in 1980. It is also the 33rd consecutive year that the rally has been a round of a prestigious BTRDA Series – winning the ‘Rally of the Year’ award five times, including last year. It is also the 11th consecutive year of support and title sponsorship from Nicky Grist Motorsports.
Plans for July’s event were at an advanced stage, with a 43 mile route on smooth gravel roads on both Natural Resources Wales and Landmarc Military Of Defence land in and around the Epynt ranges, on the picturesque Carmarthenshire and Powys border region.
With the invaluable support of Builth Wells Town Council and Powys County Council, the event – which hosts a round of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series, Pirelli Motorsport UK Welsh Forest Rally Championship, MRF Tyres BTRDA Mixed Surface Championship, ANWCC Forest Rally Championship, MRF Tyres Fiesta ST Trophy and the IPS Paint Rally Challenge – would continue to be based in the centre of Builth Wells, with rally headquarters at the stunning Strand Hall.
However, with both central and devolved government COVID-19 guidelines still in place – including the Welsh Government’s Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) regulation keeping hotels, B&Bs, holiday and camping sites closed (until 26 September, although this is reviewed every 21 days) – plus restrictions on non-essential travel and land use, Quinton Motor Club has decided to make this announcement before the event regulations are published and competitors incur unnecessary costs.
Neil Cross, Nicky Grist Stages Clerk of the Course, said: “Like everyone else, we have been monitoring the coronavirus situation very closely and had obviously hoped that the situation would have improved and restrictions lifted to enable us to continue to organise and then run a safe Nicky Grist Stages as planned in July. Given the current circumstances, it is completely understandable that both central and devolved government restrictions remain in place, and that landowners continue to reassess the risks involved with non-essential use. It is disappointing to have to postpone the event, but on today’s assessment, and before event regulations are published and entries open, it is the right thing to do. We have a window of opportunity to run the event in November, and we will be discussing our alternative plans with all the people and organisations involved.”
Nicky Grist said: “Given all the current restrictions, uncertainties and heartache that coronavirus is causing, postponing July’s Nicky Grist Stages is the responsible and correct thing to do. Fingers crossed that motorsport, and indeed life as we used to know it, returns to normality fairly soon and we will be able to run the event later in the year.”
The Builth Wells-based Nicky Grist Stages has won the prestigious BTRDA Rally Series ‘Rally of the Year Award 2019’ – which was presented to the event organisers, Quinton Motor Club, at the recent British Trial & Rally Driver Association’s annual gala awards ceremony.
Voted for by competitors, the Nicky Grist Stages was praised for the smooth running of the event and the quality of the stages, which last year saw 43 stage miles run in the classic mid-Wales forests of Crychan, Halfway, Monument and Llyn Login. It was a tremendous sporting event, on which the overall winners Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton (Ford Focus WRC) clinched the 2019 BTRDA Rally Series Gold Star title.
There was also high praise from competitors for the innovations which made last year’s Nicky Grist Stages such a huge success – in particular the move into the centre of Builth Wells, which saw the start and finish in Groe Park and the Service Area located on the Builth Wells RFC pitch, in a stunning setting on the banks of the River Wye, just a stone’s throw away from the town’s main high street and its wonderful array of independent shops, cafes and hardware stores. Rally Headquarters was in Strand Hall on Strand Street for the first time, next to the Service Area, and scrutineering had a new venue too, moving to the superb modern workshop facilities at North Road Garage.
With continued support from Builth Wells Town Council, Powys County Council, Builth Wells RFC, North Road Garage and the people and businesses of Builth Wells, this year’s Nicky Grist Stages on Saturday 11 July will continue to use all of these facilities. With the rally attracting around 1,000 visitors into Builth Wells for the weekend, the Nicky Grist Stages is rapidly developing into one of the town’s biggest events and a major economic boost to the picturesque market town.
Planning is well underway for the 2020 Nicky Grist Stages, which will once again form part of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series, Pirelli Motorsport UK Welsh Forest Rally Championship, the new MRF Tyres BTRDA Mixed Surface Championship, the ANWCC Forest Rally Championship, the MRF Tyres Fiesta ST Trophy and FMP Rally Challenge.
Neil Cross, Nicky Grist Stages Clerk of the Course, said: “As Clerk of the Course I am immensely proud that the work of our fantastic team has been recognised by the BTRDA. It’s always an achievement to be in the running for the Rally of the Year Award, and to win it means that the competitors liked what we did!”
Jeremy Pugh, Powys County Council Councillor and Chairman of Builth Wells RFC, said: “This is fantastic news that the Nicky Grist Stages has won such a prestigious award and it’s great that the town of Builth has been an integral part of that. This was the first time that we had hosted the Nicky Grist Stages in the town centre and it has been a huge success in supporting the local economy and the high street and we look forward to working together for many years to come.”
Gwyn Davies, Builth Wells Mayor, said: “What an amazing turnout Builth had for the Nicky Grist Stages event. It brought a lot of trade and visitors into the town and it was an honour for me as the Mayor to start the rally off and to present the awards at the end of the event. I would also like to congratulate Quinton Motor Club on winning the BTRDA Rally of the Year Award 2019 and we are looking forward to welcoming the them back for this year’s rally.”
Nicky Grist said: “I am delighted for Neil Cross and the whole Quinton Motor Club team on this award and I am proud to be associated with them all. Year in and year out the effort that goes into the event is nothing short of staggering. Rest assured that their efforts will not diminish, and in 2020 and beyond they will make the event even better in the years to come.”
2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series calendar
- 8th February: Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally (Llandudno)
- 14th March: Malcolm Wilson Rally (Cockermouth)
- 18th April: Rallynuts Stages Rally (Llanelwedd)
- 6th June: 75th Scottish Rally (Lockerbie)
- 11th July: Nicky Grist Stages (Builth Wells)
- 5th September: Woodpecker Stages (Ludlow)
- 26th September: Trackrod Forest Stages (Filey)
The move into the centre of Builth Wells proved a huge success, as the Quinton MC-organised Nicky Grist Stages produced a carnival atmosphere, a great sporting spectacle for the town and a significant increase in footfall and trade on the high street – which had welcomed the event with open arms. On the stages, Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton won the event in their Ford Focus WRC to clinch the 2019 Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series title.
The Scottish duo, who had won the previous four rounds of the BTRDA Series, lost their initial Nicky Grist Stages lead on SS2 after losing time with a gearbox problem that affected the launch control and handbrake. However, a good time on SS3 saw them retake the lead from Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson (Ford Fiesta WRC), who were themselves slowed by a wrong tyre choice and hanging patches of dust.
After the first 21.5 mile four-stage loop of Crychan, Halfway, Monument and Llyn Login forests had been completed, Thorburn led Petch by 21 seconds entering the mid-day service in Builth Wells (located on the town’s famous rugby pitch), with Brendan Cumiskey/Liam Moynihan (Ford Fiesta WRC) and Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence (Mitsubishi Evo 9) tied for third.
A faultless Thorburn increased his lead to score an impressive 1 minute 02 seconds victory after the four fast and smooth stages on and around the Epynt military range were repeated in the afternoon. It’s the second time the Duns driver has won the event, after victory in 2013. While Petch held onto a strong second, there was a fantastic battle for third – with Sam Bilham/Patrick Walsh (Ford Fiesta R5) setting the fastest time on the final stage to clinch the final podium spot, finishing just three seconds ahead of Cumiskey after all 43 stage miles had been completed. Former BTRDA Cup champion Naylor finished fifth, with Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy (Mitsubishi Evo 9) finishing sixth overall and top-placed Pirelli Motorsport UK Welsh Forest Rally Championship crew.
Local hero Jason Pritchard made a wrong tyre choice for the first loop and suffered a half spin on SS2 and then went off backwards and into a ditch on SS4. But after that the triple British Historic Rally Champion flew in his North Road Garage-backed Ford Escort RS1800, setting some great times with co-driver Steve McPhee to finish first Historic crew home in 15th place overall.
Tom Llewellin/Russ Whittock were delayed behind a car that had rolled and then had come back on to the stage just ahead of them, but they still scored a very good result to keep their overall, junior and two-wheel drive Welsh Forest Rally Championship, as well as the RAVENOL Welsh and FMP Rally Challenge, title aspirations very much alive.
Bobby Mitchell/Shannon Turnbull scored victory in the MRF Fiesta ST Trophy category, after series leaders Zak Hughes/Tom Wood broke the bottom arm on their Fiesta ST on SS6.
Tommi Meadows/Osian Owen won the R2 class and finished an excellent 20th overall in their Fiesta R2, Ireland’s Ruairi Maguire/Grace O’Brien won the B10 class in their Vauxhall Corsa and finished an impressive 30th overall, while other class winners included Andy Davison/Tom Murphy (B11 – Talbot Sunbeam VXR), Owen McMackin/Lee Taylor (B12 – Ford Escort), Matthew Hirst/Declan Dear (B13 – Mitsubishi Evo IX), Hywel Davies/Simon Jones (H1/2 – Ford Escort), George Lepley/Tom Woodburn (H3 – Hillman Avenger) and Tom Coughtrie/Baz Green (H4 – Mitsubishi Galant VR4). Jayne Auden-Row (MG ZR) was the highest placed lady driver in 87th position, Dawn England (Fiesta R5) was the highest placed lady co-driver in 11th, and Steve Deeley/Alan Proudman were the highest placed Quinton MC crew home, finishing 88th overall in their Peugeot 205 1.6 GTi.
There were 101 finishers, and those that didn’t make it to the end included Scott Faulkner/Gareth Parry (Mitsubishi Evo – rear differential at TC6), Theo Bengry/Les Forsbrook (Proton Iriz R5 – retired after SS1), Damian Pratts/Jonny Tad Evans (Ford Escort – clutch after SS5), Richard Hill/Steffan Evans (Subaru Impreza – differential before SS5), Ian Bainbridge/Jamie Edwards (Subaru Impreza STi – broken propshaft in SS1) and Steve and Martyn Loomes who stopped their Escort Mk1 with clutch failure just 200 yards from the finish of the last stage!
Neil Cross, Nicky Grist Stages Clerk of the Course, said: “This year’s Nicky Grist Stages ran to time throughout, the competitors enjoyed the stages and I have to give a very special thanks to the marshals, who have all been fantastic in the hot and dusty conditions. The town of Builth Wells have welcomed us with open arms and we hope we have repaid them by bringing a lot of business onto the high street. The new Service Area on the Builth Wells rugby pitch worked well – all the competitors servicing together created a great atmosphere, and there were a lot of people, many of whom were enjoying their first experience of rallying, walking around and enjoying seeing the cars and meeting the drivers and co-drivers. I’m delighted that all our innovations for 2019 worked so well and that we delivered a very successful event for the competitors and the town of Builth Wells.”
Nicky Grist said: “We implemented a lot of changes for this year’s event, the biggest one being moving the home of the event into Builth Wells town centre, and it’s been a great success. The aim was to introduce rallying to a new audience and to bring trade into Builth and it seems to have done the trick. There was a great atmosphere in the Service Park and all the competitors and spectators that I spoke to really enjoyed it. The event itself ran to time and everything ran very smoothly, so full marks to Quinton Motor Club for putting on another fantastic event. We are looking forward to doing more of the same in 2020.”
Euan Thorburn said: “We did the Nicky Grist a few years ago and the stages are always amazing down here – really smooth, really fast, and it’s just been another great day. We had a small issue with the gearbox on stage two, which affected the handbrake and the launch of the car, but apart from that everything has been perfect. To win five out of five BTRDA rounds hasn’t been done before and I certainly wasn’t expecting to achieve it at the start of the year, but it’s a great feeling.”
Next year’s Nicky Grist Stages will take place on Saturday 11 July.
2019 Nicky Grist Stages – Top 10 Finishers
- Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton (Ford Focus WRC) – 44mins 10secs
- Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson (Ford Fiesta WRC) – 45mins 12secs
- Sam Bilham/Patrick Walsh (Ford Fiesta R5) – 45mins 38secs
- Brendan Cumiskey/Liam Moynihan (Ford Fiesta WRC) – 45mins 41secs
- Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence (Mitsubishi Evo 9) – 46mins 03secs
- Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy (Mitsubishi Evo 9) – 46mins 08secs
- Matthew Hirst/Declan Dear (Mitsubishi Evo IX)- 46mins 18secs
- Conor McCourt/Brian Hoy (Ford Fiesta R5) – 46mins 40secs
- Richard Sykes/Simon Taylor (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) – 46mins 45secs
- Stephen Simpson/Mark Glennerster (Hyundai i20 R5) – 46mins 55secs
The forthcoming Nicky Grist Stages (Saturday 13 July) has received a bumper 130 car entry, with top seeds Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton hoping that a good result on the eight stage Mid-Wales forestry event will clinch them the prestigious 2019 Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series title.
The Scottish duo has been unstoppable so far this year, with four wins out of four in their Ford Focus WRC. But securing the final championship winning points are often the hardest ones to find – and they’ll have plenty of top quality competition trying to deny them the Gold Star trophy on the Builth Wells-based event.
And as if Thorburn needed reminding of that fact, in his rear view mirror will be number two seeds and 2017 champions Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson (Ford Fiesta WRC), with Connor McCloskey/Noel Sullivan (Ford Fiesta R5+) starting at number three. The quality field continues with Ian Joel/Shaun Hughes (Escort Cosworth) at four, Conor McCourt/Caolan McKenna (Ford Fiesta R5) at five and Martyn and Dawn England (Ford Fiesta R5) at six.
Local hero Jason Pritchard, the triple British Historic Rally Champion, will start his very first Nicky Grist Stages at number seven – partnered by Phil Clarke in his North Road Garage-backed Ford Escort RS1800. Having never completed against the cream of the BTRDA Historic crop before, it will be fascinating to witness Pritchard battling with the likes of reigning BTRDA Silver Star champions George Lepley/Tom Woodburn, who lead the BTRDA Historic Cup and who are an incredible third overall in their flying Hillman Avenger.
Tom Llewellin will be another Historic Escort Mk2 driver to watch. The son of double British Rally Champion David Llewellin arrives at the Nicky Grist Stages leading the Pirelli Motorsport UK Welsh Forest Rally Championship in the overall drivers’ standings, the Junior series, the two-wheel drive category and the RAVENOL Welsh Challenge. The Pembrokeshire teenager also leads the FMP Rally Challenge, which has over 100 competitors and helps raise the profile of the Wales Air Ambulance. Co-driven by Russ Whittock, Llewellin is seeded at number 19.
Matthew Hurst/Declan Dear, Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy and Scott Faulkner/Gareth Parry (who also lead the BTRDA Production Cup) are currently second, third and fourth in the Welsh series, and their close rivalry will continue in a trio of rapid Mitsubishi Evos.
Others crews to look out for include Theo Bengry/Les Forsbrook in the new Proton Iriz R5, former BTRDA Cup champions Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence (Mitsubishi Evo), Wug Utting/Bob Stokoe (Subaru Impreza N12), Terry Brown/Angharad Williams (Escort Mk2), Richard Hill/Steffan Evans (Subaru Impreza), Tommi Meadows/Osian Owen (Fiesta R2), former 1400 champion Ed Fossey/Will Rutherford (Peugeot 208 R2), Callum Black/Michael Gilbey (MG ZR S1400), Steve Black/Paul Morris (Suzuki Swift 1400), Dan Evans/Jess Hockly (Suzuki Swift), Chris Powell/Jim Lewis (who lead the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA 1400 Championship in their Talbot Sunbeam) and Noel Lappin/Will Atkins, who will lead the field away in their Escort Mk2.
The event is also a round of the MRF Fiesta ST Trophy, with series leaders Zak Hughes/Tom Wood aiming to extend their healthy 25 point lead over Bobby Mitchell/Shannon Turnbull.
No fewer than 18 manufacturers and over 40 different models are represented on the entry list. The vast array of rally-prepared cars competing on the event include a Porsche 911, a BMW 325, Compact M3 and E30, a Toyota GT86, an Opel Ascona, Talbot Sunbeam VXR, Honda Civic, Mitsubishi Galant VR4, Vauxhall Chevette HSR, a Ford Ka and a SEAT Arosa – to name but a few!
This year’s Quinton MC-organised Nicky Grist Stages will be based in the centre of Builth Wells for the first time. Scrutineering takes place on the eve of the event at North Road Garage, while the trailer park and a re-fuelling zone will be located at the town’s Cattle Market car park. On Saturday (13 July), the Start (08.30) and Finish (15.16) ceremonies will take place in Groe Park and the Service Area will be on the Builth Wells RFC pitch, in a stunning venue on the banks of the River Wye. Rally Headquarters is based a few steps away in Strand Hall on Strand Street, with the hub of the rally all within a stone’s throw away from the town’s main high street, which is full of wonderful independent shops, cafes and hardware stores.
The 2019 Nicky Grist Stages is the only rally to use Crychan forest this year, with a fantastic opening stage that is just over nine miles long. A short test through Halfway forest is next, followed by the popular Monument stage and then a revised Llyn Login stage. Following a mid-day service halt (from 11.30) in Builth Wells, the 21.5 mile four-stage loop will be repeated in the afternoon, giving a stunning 43 miles of competition in total.
Following the success of last year’s format, the 1400, Rally First and H1/2 Historic cars will once again run in the first batch of cars in reverse order, followed by the rest of the field in a second batch, running in number order.
Neil Cross, Nicky Grist Stages Clerk of the Course, said: “We are really pleased with the depth and quality of this year’s entry throughout the field and we are looking forward to another classic Nicky Grist Stages. The battles for the championship titles are on a knife edge and the event could be the deciding factor.”
2019 Nicky Grist Stages – Top 10 Seeds
- Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton – Ford Focus WRC
- Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson – Ford Fiesta WRC
- Connor McCloskey/Noel Sullivan – Ford Fiesta R5+
- Ian Joel/Shaun Hughes – Ford Escort Cosworth
- Conor McCourt/Caolan McKenna – Ford Fiesta R5
- Martyn England/Dawn England – Ford Fiesta R5
- Jason Pritchard/Phil Clarke – Ford Escort RS1800
- Scott Faulkner/Gareth Parry – Mitsubishi Evo 9
- Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy – Mitsubishi Evo 9
- Pat Naylor/Patrick Walsh – Mitsubishi Evo 9
Builth Wells champion rally driver Jason Pritchard will contest his home forestry event, the Nicky Grist Stages, for the first time on Saturday 13 July in his North Road Garage-backed Ford Escort RS1800.
Having won the MSA British Historic Rally Championship title for a record three times in a row (2015, ’16 and ’17), this will be the first time that Pritchard has competed against the Historic crews in the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series. So competitive is the Historic section this year that class leader George Lepley (Hillman Avenger) is also lying third in the overall BTRDA Series drivers’ points table!
Co-driven by Phil Clarke, Pritchard is contesting the Nicky Grist Stages as part of his on-going preparations for another attempt at this winter’s Roger Albert Clark Rally. He’s done that event twice before, and after a broken half-shaft ruined a one minute lead, the talented 31-year old driver is aiming to win the November classic for the first time this year.
Originally built in 1980, Pritchard’s RS1800 has a rich motorsport history, even in the modern era of top-flight Historic rallying. Gwyndaf Evans won the Roger Albert Clark Rally in the car in 2011, the same year Stig Blomqvist drove it to victory on the Colin McRae Historic Forest Stages Rally and then Petter Solberg drove it on a demonstration event in Norway, before Pritchard acquired it.
Technical checks on the eve of the Nicky Grist Stages will take place at North Road Garage in Llanelwedd, meaning that Pritchard won’t even have to miss any hours in work that day, as he works at the family’s Toyota dealership as Sales Manager.
Jason Pritchard said: “It’s great to support my local forest rally, especially as it’s coming into the centre of Builth Wells this year, and I’m really looking forward to contesting the Nicky Grist Stages for the first time. Getting some good seat time in the Escort Mk2 is the most important thing as we prepare for the Roger Albert Clark Rally later in the year, but of course we want to be competitive, do our best and put on a good show for the spectators. I’ve never rallied against the crews in the Historic BTRDA Rally Series before, but it looks to be extremely competitive and the pace will undoubtedly be very hot. Hopefully a clean run on the Nicky Grist Stages will set us up nicely for a good performance on the Roger Albert Clark Rally – and if we can win that for the first time later in the year, it will be another box on the Bucket List ticked off!”
This year’s Quinton MC-organised Nicky Grist Stages contains eight stages (four repeated) totalling 43 stage miles in the classic Mid-Wales forests of Crychan, Halfway, Monument and Llyn Login, situated in the stunning Carmarthenshire-Powys border area.
The hub of the event will move into the centre of Builth Wells for the first time, with the Rally Headquarters located at the stunning Strand Hall on Strand Street, the Start and Finish ceremonies in Groe Park, on the banks of the River Wye, and the Service Area situated on the Builth Wells RFC pitch, a stone’s throw away from the town’s main high street, which is full of magnificent independent cafes and shops.
Following the success of last year, competitors in the 1400, Rally First and H1/2 Historic classes will once again run first on the road in the first batch of cars in reverse order, followed by the rest of the field in a second batch, running in number order.
Regulations and entry forms are available in the Competitors’ section of www.nickygriststages.co.uk
This year’s Nicky Grist Stages (Saturday 13 July) is celebrating the 10th Anniversary of title sponsorship support from Nicky Grist Motorsports – and the man himself has been a vital component in the event’s success over the years, both in terms of backing and his invaluable guidance on planning the route and timetable from a competitor’s point of view.
And Nicky says that this year’s Quinton MC-organised event, which contains eight stages (four repeated) totalling 43 stage miles in the classic Mid-Wales forest stages in the Carmarthenshire-Powys border area, will be one of the best – as the stages are in super-smooth condition.
Nicky Grist said: “This year’s Nicky Grist Stages has a fantastic opening stage, Crychan. At just over nine miles, it’s the longest stage of the event and one of the longest in the BTRDA Series, and competitors aiming for a good result will need to go hard and fast from the very beginning. As it’s the only rally that will use Crychan this year, the road is in excellent condition. It’s a stage were drivers and co-drivers can really get their teeth into, as the road is super-smooth. There is a lot of variety too, with many junctions, twisty sections and some fast and flowing sections. It’s a gem of a Mid-Wales stage, one of the best stages you can find, and like all the stages competitors get to do it twice, as it’s repeated in the afternoon.
“Next up is Halfway. All the forestry stages in and around the Epynt military range have a similar feel, but all have their own very subtle characteristics, and Halfway is no exception. It’s a shorter stage, but there is plenty to keep crews focused and there are opportunities to make up time, and lose time if you’re not careful.
“The Monument stage returns for the first time since 2017. We like to change the route and give competitors something a little different each year, so this classic gravel Epynt stage returns while Route 60 is being re-surfaced. This stage is rarely used and is in magnificent condition.
“The fourth and final stage on the loop is Llyn Login. This was used on the event for the first time last year, and is back by popular demand. The great majority of the stage will be run in the opposite direction, making it a brand new challenge for crews. It finishes on the eastern side of the ranges, so from there it’s a short drop down into Builth Wells for midday service – before all four stages are repeated in the afternoon.
“I’m also delighted that the event is moving lock, stock and barrel into the centre of Builth Wells. The Royal Welsh Showground has served us well over the years, but it’s meant that the event has always been a bit hidden away from people. With the support of Builth Wells Town Council and Powys County Council, Rally Headquarters has moved into the fabulous Strand Hall in Strand Street, the Start, Finish and Service Area is located at the Builth Wells RFC in Groe Park, the trailer park and a re-fuelling zone will be at the town’s Cattle Market car park and Scrutineering will be at North Road Garage. In terms of promotion and visibility, all these developments takes the event to another level, which can only be of greater benefit to rally crews, rally sponsors and the businesses and people of Builth Wells. It’s a real win-win situation.”
This will be the 32nd consecutive year that the Nicky Grist Stages will host a round of the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series. The event will count towards the BTRDA Gold Star, BTRDA Silver Star, BTRDA Production Cup, BTRDA 1400, BTRDA Rally First, BTRDA Historic Cup, BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup and the Fiesta ST Trophy, plus the Pirelli Motorsport UK Welsh Forest Rally Championship, FMP Rally Challenge and the HRCR Stage Masters Challenge.
Following the success of last year, competitors in the 1400, Rally First and H1/2 Historic classes will once again run first on the road in the first batch of cars in reverse order, followed by the rest of the field in a second batch, running in number order.
Regulations and entry forms are available in the Competitors’ section of www.nickygriststages.co.uk
North Road Garage, a company synonymous with both the motor industry in Mid-Wales and with national rallying, will provide state-of-the-art scrutineering facilities for this year’s Nicky Grist Stages – which takes place on Saturday 13 July.
The Toyota dealership, which is situated in a prime position on the A470/A483 roundabout on the outskirts of Builth Wells, has very kindly offered its pristine workshop for the event’s technical and safety checks, which will be carried out on the eve of the rally (on the afternoon of Friday 12 July). A one-way system will operate to allow an easy flow in and out of the workshop, while the building will provide competitors and scrutineers with first-class operating facilities.
It’s not the first time a high-profile motorsports event has used North Road Garage for such an occasion, as it was the scrutineering venue for the 2011 Wales Rally GB.
North Road Garage is owned by Eian Pritchard and his wife Helen. The company has been based in Builth Wells since 1972, when Eian’s parents ran it as a petrol station. Eian was training to be a motor technician at Newtown College when, in May 1977, his father sadly passed away. Aged just 19, Eian immediately left college to help his mother run the garage, and began offering customers vehicle repairs and servicing.
In April 1984 Eian and Helen bought North Road Garage and started buying and selling used cars. In 1989, the old site was redeveloped and in December 1992 North Road Garage took on the Toyota franchise selling new and used cars. During this period, from the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties, North Road Garage also used to buy, sell and rent out rally cars, with many customers scoring event and championship victories. It still buys and sells the odd rally car, in addition to normal car sales.
In October 2007 North Road Garage moved into new purpose-built state-of-the-art premises to accommodate new Toyota franchise requirements. This is where North Road Garage is based today, and the busy operation employs 15 people.
Renowned for having an exceptionally high quality of service and aftersales care, Eian is also extremely well known in rallying – and has, over the years, won many national Tarmac events as a driver. Running North Road Garage has meant that he has mainly tackled individual events and has been unable to contest many full championships, although Eian did finish second in the 1988 Motoring News National Tarmac Rally Championship in the famous ex-Roger Clark (POO 505R) Group 4 Escort. He also finished second in the same series in 2004, driving a Group A Subaru Impreza. He most recently won the Historic section and finished 11th overall on the Dixies Challenge Rally, driving a Ford Escort RS1800 – which was his first rally in twelve months!
Eian’s son Jason Pritchard also works at North Road Garage. After finishing his GCSEs at school, Jason attended the Toyota Academy to train as a motor technician and has worked his way up through the business to become Sales Manager. He worked in the workshop for a number of years and also maintained the rally cars and has built a number of competition cars.
Jason is also a superb rally driver, and has won four major British titles in as many years – a hat-trick of MSA British Historic Rally Championship titles (2015, ’16 and ’17) and the 2018 Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship. The reigning champion currently leads the Asphalt series with a perfect score, after winning three out of three rounds in a Ford Focus WRC05. His latest victory on the Manx National Rally equalled Kenny McKinstry’s record of five event wins.
Eian Pritchard, North Road Garage MD, said: “It’s a privilege to be able to accommodate the Nicky Grist Stages as a scrutineering venue. We’re delighted to help a national rally use our facilities at North Road Garage and we hope it is a successful event for the organisers, competitors and the local town. It’s great to have big events such as these come to Builth Wells, as it’s extremely beneficial to the local economy in this small town in Mid-Wales. We really do appreciate the event supporting our local businesses and all the teams and spectators this event brings with it.”
Neil Cross, Nicky Grist Stages Clerk of the Course, said: “We are delighted to have access to such fabulous facilities for our scrutineering and look forward to working with Eian, Jason and all those at North Road Garage, which is an iconic name in national rallying. Working with the local businesses in Builth Wells is important to us at Quinton Motor Club and bringing the event into the heart of the town is a major part of our vision for the Nicky Grist Stages going forward.”
This year’s Quinton Motor Club-organised Nicky Grist Stages hosts a round of the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series for a 32nd consecutive year. The event will count towards the BTRDA Gold Star, BTRDA Silver Star, BTRDA Production Cup, BTRDA 1400, BTRDA Rally First, BTRDA Historic Cup, BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup and the Fiesta ST Trophy, plus the Pirelli Motorsport UK Welsh Forest Rally Championship, FMP Rally Challenge and the HRCR Stage Masters Challenge.
Based in the centre of Builth Wells – with Rally Headquarters in Strand Hall (Strand Street) and the Start, Finish and Service Area at the Builth Wells RFC in Groe Park – this year’s route will contain 43 stage miles in Crychan, Halfway, Monument and Llyn Login forests. All eight stages (four stages repeated) will run on both Natural Resources Wales and Ministry of Defence land on the Epynt ranges, in the Carmarthenshire-Powys border area.