The 2022 Nicky Grist Stages brought a carnival atmosphere to Builth Wells at the weekend as 160 crews from six major British rally championships entertained the large number of visitors who created a magnificent buzz in the Service Area in Groe Park, at the Start and Finish ceremonies and in the nearby mid-Wales forest stages.
In glorious sunshine, spectators enjoyed some fantastic viewing in Halfway and Crychan, while special thanks go to the volunteer marshals and officials who kept everyone safe and the event running on time.
Following scrutineering at North Road Garage, the Mayor of Builth Wells, Cllr Alan Waller, flagged the cars away from outside Strand Hall on Strand Street at the start of the eight-stage event.
After all 44.38 stage miles, held on the classic Natural Resources Wales and Defence Infrastructure Organisation Wales forest gravel roads on and around the Epynt military range, were completed, the Mayor and Nicky Grist were back to present the trophies to the winners, with the British Rally Championship, MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series and Pirelli Ravenol Welsh Rally Championship podium ceremonies taking place on the banks of the River Wye.
In a fantastic display of speed and skill, Osian Pryce/Noel O’Sullivan won the Quinton Stages – National section of the event for the first time in their Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, while there were new winners of the Nicky Grist Stages – Interclub section of the event too, with Matthew Hirst/Declan Dear claiming victory in their Ford Fiesta R5+.
Following the success of the event – not just in sporting terms, but as an economic boost to Builth Wells (the rally organisers alone booked 55 bed and breakfast rooms in the town) – the Nicky Grist Stages can announce that the 2023 event will take place on Saturday 8 July.
Next year’s event will be the 14th consecutive year of title sponsorship from Nicky Grist Motorsports, and Colin McRae’s former co-driver (who was joined at this year’s event by Jimmy, Margaret, Alister and Max McRae) was full of praise for the 2022 edition.
“It’s been a wonderful event,” said Nicky.
“The organisation has been excellent. The stages ran on time, the competition was fantastic, we had no dramas whatsoever and even the weather was perfect.
“Bringing the event into the centre of Builth Wells created a lot of buzz around the town and there was a fantastic atmosphere in the service park. It was great to see so many visitors walking around looking at the rally cars and talking to the teams. Many of them were locals, but a lot were people just passing through Builth who decided to stop and look at what was going on.
“I managed to get out to watch on the stages. The action was incredible and everyone had a great time.
“Rallying needs to embrace the smaller communities and one of our key aims was to bring trade into Builth Wells. We certainly did that, and we created quite a carnival atmosphere too. I’m delighted by the way everything went.”
This year’s Nicky Grist Stages teamed up with Carbon Positive Motorsport to provide carbon offsetting as part of a long-term roadmap and commitment to mitigate the event’s carbon footprint. Ninety rally crews registered to carbon offset their event-related travel, plus a considerable number of marshals, officials and spectators, which was a tremendous uptake in year one of the partnership.
The event also worked very closely with GoSafe – the Wales Road Casualty Reduction Partnership and its Operation SNAP programme, and no rally-related road traffic offences have been reported.
“On behalf of Quinton Motor Club, we’d like to thank Nicky [Grist] for all his enthusiasm and support and the competitors, marshals, spectators and residents of Builth Wells for helping make this year’s event such a success,” said Neil Cross, Nicky Grist Stages Clerk of the Course.
“Our inaugural year working with Carbon Positive Motorsport was also a huge success and we look forwarding to working with them in the future.”
NGStages23 – Saturday 8 July.