10 rally championships come to Builth Wells this summer for the economy-boosting Nicky Grist Stages

This summer’s Nicky Grist Stages (8-9 July) will play host to no less than 10 different rally championships – highlighting not only what a major sporting attraction the event now is, but also a major boost for the economy of Builth Wells, Llanelwedd and the nearby Powys and Carmarthenshire towns and villages.

Organised by Quinton Motor Club, this year’s Nicky Grist Stages is, for the second year running, the only event to host a round of both the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship and Ravenol BTRDA Rally Series – meaning that Britain’s best rally drivers will be coming to the region. It is also a round of eight other championships too, including the Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship, MAXXIS MSA English Championship, BTRDA Rally First, Fiesta ST Trophy and FMP Rally Challenge – attracting the best regional and young up-and-coming drivers to mid-Wales.

The event will be based at the Royal Welsh Showground, with around 45 loose-surface stage miles planned for Saturday (8 July) in the forests of Crychan, Halfway, Route 60 and Monument. Only around a quarter of the forest stage miles will be held on Natural Resources Wales land, helping to keep the cost of running and participating on the event down. Sunday (9 July) will see a further 75 asphalt stage miles over the famous fast, undulating and spectacular Epynt military ranges.

To accommodate all 10 rally championships over the two day rally festival, there will be effectively three rallies in one. The split is as follows:

 

Nicky Grist Stages BRC (two day Saturday and Sunday event)

  • Prestone MSA British Rally Championship
  • FMP Rally Challenge

 

Nicky Grist Stages (one day Saturday event)

  • Ravenol BTRDA Rally Series
  • Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship
  • MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship
  • BTRDA 1400 Championship
  • BTRDA Rally First
  • Fiesta ST Trophy
  • MG ZR Rally Challenge
  • FMP Rally Challenge
  • ANWCC Forest Rally Championship

 

Spencer Sport Acropolis Rally (one day Sunday event)

  • MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship
  • FMP Rally Challenge

 

The Sunday rally will be sponsored by Llandysul-based rally team Spencer Sport, and will be known as the Spencer Sport Acropolis Rally – which pays homage to one of the very earliest events ever organised by Quinton MC. Soon after the club was formed in 1959, Quinton MC ran (amongst others) the Acropolis Rally from the mid-1960s onwards. It became a hugely popular Welsh Championship night road rally, however it has not taken place in this format since 1986. The club last used the name for a single venue stage event at Wheaton Aston for three years in the late 1980s. So, after an absence of over 25 years, the Acropolis Rally name returns to Quinton MC’s events calendar for 2017.

For the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship crews, this year’s Nicky Grist Stages will be a challenging two-day mixed surface event. For the MAXXIS MSA English Championship competitors, the event will be a double-header, with points awarded after day one and day two.

Neil Cross, Nicky Grist Stages Clerk of the Course, said: “Having so many of the top championships wanting the Nicky Grist Stages to be included in their calendar is a great honour for the event and a testament of the challenge the event will pose. We learnt a great deal from last year’s event and we are planning a truly fantastic experience for all our competitors, regardless of championship. On a personal note it is pleasing that we can bring back an iconic name in Quinton MC’s rallying history. As an organiser I started with both the D’Isis and Acropolis Rallies, and to bring back the Acropolis Rally name evokes many wonderful memories.

Nicky Grist said: “When I started sponsoring the Nicky Grist Stages, I did not imagine that we would become a qualifying event for ten different championships. This is testimony to the hard work of all the main officials and Quinton Motor Club, who work really hard to make it, what it is fair to say, the biggest rally in the UK behind Wales Rally GB. The Sunday format has change to accommodate the Acropolis Rally, and twelve stages in a day will offer a real challenge.

Nicky Grist Stages wins prestigious 2016 BTRDA ‘Rally of the Year’ award

The Nicky Grist Stages has won the prestigious Bill Turner Trophy for the Best Event in the 2016 Ravenol BTRDA Rally Series.

It’s the fourth time that the Quinton Motor Club-organised rally has won the award, having lifted the trophy in 2005, 2010 and 2012. It has also been nominated as one of the top three best organised BTRDA Rally Series events for the last six years in succession.

Luke Francis/John Roberts (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) scored BTRDA Rally Series victory on the Nicky Grist Stages last year, finishing over a minute ahead of Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson (Ford Fiesta R5+), with Paul Benn/Richard Cooke (Ford Focus WRC02) coming home in third. Charlie Payne/Carl Williamson (Ford Fiesta) led until electrical problems put them out, although that didn’t stop them becoming 2016 BTRDA Rally Series champions at season end.

In addition to the BTRDA ‘Rally of the Year’ award, which was presented to Quinton MC at the recent BTRDA awards evening at the Ramada Hotel in Sutton Coldfield, the 2016 Nicky Grist Stages also won the Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship Event of the Year award.

Quinton MC is currently busy finalising route details for this year’s Nicky Grist Stages – which will run over the weekend of 8-9 July. 2017 celebrates the 37th running of Quinton MC’s forest stage rally, the 30th consecutive year of it hosting a round of the BTRDA Rally Series, the seventh year of title sponsorship from Nicky Grist Motorsports and its second appearance as a round of the MSA British Rally Championship. Based at the Royal Welsh Showground near Builth Wells, this year’s event will retain its popular 2016 two-day mixed surface format, with gravel stages in the forests on the Saturday (8 July), and BRC crews continuing over the Tarmac stage of Epynt on the Sunday (9 July).

Neil Cross, Nicky Grist Stages Clerk of the Course, said: “Organising and running an event as big as the Nicky Grist Stages is a team effort and this award is a testimony to the hard work put in by everybody. Last year was the biggest challenge the event has ever faced; bringing three major championships together was tough but maintaining the quality the BTRDA has come to expect was one of our highest priorities and the fact we achieved that and were recognised by the BTRDA with the Bill Turner award for Best Event is something we are all extremely proud of.

Nicky Grist Stages on 8-9 July 2017 adds new national rally to its two-day mixed surface BRC spectacular

Next year’s Nicky Grist Stages (8-9 July) will host round five of the 2017 MSA British Rally Championship (BRC) – and whilst that will be a two-day mixed surface event, there will also be one-day rounds of other major championships, including the Ravenol BTRDA Rally Series, run on both the Saturday and Sunday next summer.

Organised by Quinton Motor Club, the date of the 2017 Nicky Grist Stages had been published as 15-16 July, but owing to MOD activities on the Epynt military range, the event will take place one week earlier on 8-9 July – the corresponding weekend to 2016, which saw 162 cars start from the Royal Welsh Showground.

Next year’s event will follow a similar format to 2016, with a mixed-surface two-day rally for the BRC crews. Saturday’s forestry gravel stages, run in the spectacular Carmarthenshire and Powys border region, will also host a round of the BTRDA Rally Series and include the MSA Welsh Rally Championship and the FMP Rally Challenge. Sunday’s stages will be held over the challenging asphalts road of Epynt for the BRC crews, plus at least one other National B event.

Builth Wells will play host to the ceremonial start and finish, the main service area will be in the nearby Royal Welsh Showground and there will be a new remote service area on Epynt on the Sunday.

Neil Cross, Nicky Grist Stages Clerk of the Course, said: “Whilst the popular two-day gravel on Saturday and Tarmac on Sunday format of next year’s Nicky Grist Stages will be similar to 2016, the event has acted on the excellent and positive feedback received from competitors and will have a slightly different feel to it. We’ve worked closely with Natural Resources Wales and Rally4Wales to introduce some fresh gravel stages, whilst we’re looking at extending the Tarmac stage mileage on day two and also run a National B event on the Sunday as well.

Nicky Grist said: “The gravel route of next year’s Nicky Grist Stages is pretty much all confirmed, and we are truly blessed to have some of the very best forestry stages in Wales right on our doorstep. We’ll have a different route layout for the Sunday’s asphalt stages, which will allow the event to breathe. We’ll have a later start and a later finish, and we hope to run as much as seventy stage miles on the Sunday. Cars will still start at thirty-second intervals on the Tarmac – this makes it action-packed for the spectators, and has proven to keep the roaming sheep off the road, which is an important safety consideration.

Iain Campbell, BRC Championship Manager, said: “The Nicky Grist Stages proves once and for all that rallying is a team sport. The driver and co-driver may be the stars out on the stages, but the mixed-surface challenge from this rally means that the mechanics are the stars on Saturday night when they only have 180 minutes to change the complete suspension parts, brakes and roll bars on the cars. This year there were a lot of anxious faces around the service park as the end of day service began that were exchanged for high-fives and applause all around each competitor’s area as they all completed the set up change in time. A unique challenge on an event that offers stages with the unique terrain of Eypnt – the Nicky Grist Stages is somewhere the BRC is looking forward to going back to in 2017.

 

2017 MSA British Rally Championship calendar

4-5 March: Mid-Wales Stages (Newtown)

29-30 April: Pirelli Carlisle Rally (Carlisle)

19-20 May: RSAC Scottish Rally (Dumfries)

23-24 June: Ypres Rally (Ypres, Belgium)

8-9 July: Nicky Grist Stages (Builth Wells)

18-19 August: Ulster Rally (Derry/Londonderry)

14-16 September: Rally Isle of Man (Douglas)

 

2017 Ravenol BTRDA Rally Series calendar

11 February: Cambrian Rally (Llandudno)

11 March: Malcolm Wilson Rally (Cockermouth)

8 April: Somerset Stages (Minehead)

13 May: Plains Rally (Welshpool)

10 June: Carlisle Stages Rally (Carlisle)

8 July: Nicky Grist Stages (Builth Wells)

2 September: Woodpecker Stages (Ludlow)

30 September: Trackrod Forest Stages (Pickering)

Nicky Grist Stages confirmed on 2017 BRC calendar

The Nicky Grist Stages has been confirmed as a round of the 2017 MSA British Rally Championship (BRC) and will take place over the weekend of 15-16 July next year.

The Quinton Motor Club organised event hosted a round of the BRC for the first time this year, running as a two-day rally for the first time. Based at the Royal Welsh Showground, it was the only mixed-surface round of the 2016 BRC, with 45 stage miles run on gravel roads on the Carmarthenshire and Powys border on day one, followed by 60 stage miles on Tarmac over the Epynt military ranges on day two. After the challenging format received high praise from BRC competitors, next year’s event will follow a similar layout, with improvements and adjustments introduced following feedback and data collected this year.

Neil Cross, Nicky Grist Stages Clerk of the Course, said: “Having stepped up to the challenge in 2016 and gaining valuable experience of running a round of the MSA British Rally Championship, we are delighted to be included in the 2017 calendar. The event in 2016 was very well received, and we will take on the feedback we’ve acquired and will strive to improve the event for 2017.

Nicky Grist said: “I am delighted that the BRC has incorporated the Nicky Grist Stages into its 2017 calendar. We learnt a lot after running a two-day event for the first time in 2016, and we are much better equipped and excited about running a better event in 2017.

Iain Campbell, BRC Championship Manager, said: “The feedback we had from competitors about the event’s two-day mixed-surface format, together with the brilliant support we received from event organisers and from Nicky as the sponsor, made putting the Nicky Grist Stages on the 2017 BRC calendar a very easy decision to make. It’s a very appealing event, and we’re looking forward to returning to Builth Wells next July.

 

2017 MSA British Rally Championship calendar

4-5 March: Mid-Wales Stages (Newtown)

29-30 April: Pirelli Carlisle Rally (Carlisle)

19-20 May: RSAC Scottish Rally (Dumfries)

23-24 June: Ypres Rally (Ypres, Belgium)

15-16 July: Nicky Grist Stages (Builth Wells)

18-19 August: Ulster Rally (Derry/Londonderry)

14-16 September: Rally Isle of Man (Douglas)

Elfyn Evans leads the champagne celebrations in Builth Wells after a superb Nicky Grist Stages

Elfyn Evans, co-driven by fellow Welshman Craig Parry, won the 2016 Nicky Grist Stages (9-10 July) in their DMACK British Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5 – and celebrated in style by spraying the champagne in Groe Park, Builth Wells, at the end of a gruelling 100 mile event.

It was the first time that the Nicky Grist Stages had hosted a round of the MSA British Rally Championship, and to mark the occasion Quinton Motor Club had organised a 100 mile mixed-surfaced two-day event. With its headquarters at the Royal Welsh Showground, the event had attracted a 180 car capacity entry, with 45 stage miles run on gravel on Saturday and a further 60 miles run on Tarmac over the Epynt military ranges on Sunday.

Quinton Motor Club overcame a number of big challenges – not least the appallingly wet and windy weather conditions, which makes running such a vast outdoor event that much more difficult. Despite this, a large number of spectators braved the conditions – and 150 guests enjoyed a VIP day out at a stage-side hospitality marquee, where they enjoyed superb food, excellent viewing and a host of guest speakers.

The event also raised money for the Tirabad Village Hall, Brecon Rotary Club and the Welsh Air Ambulance, via collections and donations made during the event. Thanks to the generosity of those enjoying the entertainment in the Competitors’ Lounge in Rally HQ on Saturday night, a charity auction also raised over £1,600 for the Gareth Roberts Fund.

The event’s association with the GoSafe Safety Camera Partnership proved to be a big success, with no reported spike in road traffic offences over the weekend period for that region, despite the increase in traffic, and a fairly low number of motorist caught speeding – none of which are currently known to be associated in any way with the event.

In the battle for the BRC title, Evans took the lead of the Nicky Grist Stages on SS3 and never looked back – the Dolgellau driver going on to set a total of 12 fastest stage times to win the event by 1 minute 11.4 seconds and extend his lead at the top of the BRC points table. Aberdyfi’s Tom Cave and co-driver James Morgan made it a Welsh one-two by finishing second in their Spencer Sport Fiesta R5, while Desi Henry/Liam Moynihan (ŠKODA Fabia R5) finished third.

The top three finishers overall, together with the top three DMACK Junior BRC finishers – 1st Robert Duggan/Ger Conway, 2nd Mattias Adielsson/Andreas Johansson (both Vauxhall Adam R2s) and 3rd Sindre Furuseth/Jim Hjerpe (Renault Twingo R2) – plus all the class winners (including Matt Edwards/Will Rogers, who clinched the BRC2 title in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) attended a special finish ceremony in Groe Park. There, on the banks of the River Wye and with Builth Wells’ iconic 18th Century bridge in the background, they were presented with their trophies by the Mayor of Builth Wells, Councillor Meryl Prynne, and the Head of Planning and ICT from Powys County Council, Mrs. Avril York.

Chris Wheeler/Yan Griffiths crashed their Citroen DS3 R3T on SS14, which saw the rapid deployment of the emergency rescue and medical units, and so the results were declared final after 15 of the 18 scheduled stages. Quinton Motor Club wishes Chris and Yan a full and speedy recovery.

In the battle for points in the Ravenol BTRDA Rally Series, Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship, HRCR Stage Masters Challenge, ANWCC Forest Rally Championship, ANWCC Historic Stage Rally Championship and FMP Rally Challenge – which ran exclusively over the eight gravel stages on Saturday ­– it was Luke Francis/John Roberts who came out on top, winning by over a minute in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX. Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson (Ford Fiesta R5+) and Paul Benn/Richard Cooke (Ford Focus WRC02) finished second and third, after strong trouble-free runs. Julian Reynolds/Patrick Walsh (Ford Focus WRC) led after SS1, only to lose time with steering issues on SS2 and retiring on SS4 with a holed radiator. BTRDA Gold Star leaders Charlie Payne/Carl Williamson (Ford Fiesta) led for a time too, until electrical problems put them out on SS6. 2013 Nicky Grist Stages winners Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton (Peugeot 208 T16) retired with a cracked manifold.

Neil Cross, Nicky Grist Stages Clerk of the Course, said: “Quinton Motor Club has put on another high quality event, and we worked hard on a new mixed-surface two-day format, which was extremely well received by the competitors. The stage safety marshals and all the officials out in the field worked heroically in some pretty appalling weather conditions, and whilst circumstances didn’t allow us to complete the full route, we gave all the competitors a tough event that they certainly rose to the challenge of.

Nicky Grist said: “Not only has it been a challenging event for the crews, the organisers have also had one of the toughest events we’ve had to organise in quite a number of years. The weather and army movements on the ranges were out of our control, but we overcame everything that was thrown at us and put on a fantastic fifteen-stage rally on two different surfaces that crews really enjoyed. We’ve learnt a lot. Next year we will do a few things differently, which will make it a much smoother and an even better event.

 

Nicky Grist Stages – Top 10 Finishers Overall

  1. Elfyn Evans /Craig Parry (Ford Fiesta R5): 1hr 18mins 48.4secs
  2. Tom Cave/James Morgan (Ford Fiesta R5): +1m11.4s
  3. Desi Henry/Liam Moynihan (ŠKODA Fabia R5): +2m01.8s
  4. David Bogie/James O’Reilly (ŠKODA Fabia R5): +2m48.5s
  5. Josh Moffett/John Rowan (Ford Fiesta R5): +3m05.9s
  6. Jonathan Greer/Kirsty Riddick (Citroën DS3 R5): +3m08.0s
  7. Rhys Yates/Tom Woodburn (Ford Fiesta R5): +3m30.0s
  8. Jamie Anderson/Ross Whittock (Ford Fiesta R5): +5m38.2s
  9. Ollie Mellors/Ian Windress (Proton Satria Neo S2000): +5m48.7s
  10. Tom Preston/Jack Morton (ŠKODA Fabia R5): +5m58.7s

New picturesque podium finish location brings the Nicky Grist Stages to the heart of Builth Wells

This year’s Nicky Grist Stages podium finish celebrations will be held on the banks of the River Wye, overlooking Builth Wells’ 18th Century bridge, at 14.00 on Sunday 10 July – as the event brings a new picturesque ending to Round 5 of the 2016 MSA British Rally Championship.

After all 100 stage miles have been completed, the top three overall finishers in the BRC, together with the three highest placed DMACK Junior BRC crews and the BRC class winners (together with their cars), will be invited to spray the champagne at Groe Park – a short distance from the rally headquarters and the event service area at the Royal Welsh Showground.

Local dignitaries, including the Mayor of Builth Wells, motorsport photographers and TV camera crews from Channel 4, BT Sport and S4C will all attend the finish ceremony. Entry is free and fans are very welcome to come and see the stars of the BRC celebrate conquering the only mixed-surface event in the BRC.

Neil Cross, Nicky Grist Stages Clerk of the Course, said: “Seeing the MSA British Rally Championship crews at the end of two tough days of competition celebrating in style in such picturesque surroundings is a new venture for us, and we hope many locals will come out and help with those celebrations.

Nicky Grist said: “The new picturesque finish location for 2016 offers a pleasant end to what I am sure will be a very hard fought rally by the crews. With the Mayor of Builth Wells in attendance, we will be showing off the town’s best known landmark and have opened the event up to the general public.

 

Regulations and entry forms are available in the Competitors’ section of www.nickygriststages.co.uk

BRC leader and local hero Elfyn Evans heads star-studded Nicky Grist Stages entry list

Elfyn Evans and co-driver Craig Parry have been seeded at number one for this weekend’s Quinton Motor Club organised Nicky Grist Stages – which starts from the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells this Saturday (9 July).

The DMACK British Rally Team crew lead the MSA British Rally Championship, and they’ll be the first away in their Ford Fiesta R5 when the two-day rally festival gets underway. BRC crews fill the top 10, with CA1 Sport stable-mates Fredrik Åhlin/Morten Abrahamsen (Ford Fiesta R5) and David Bogie/Kevin Rae (ŠKODA Fabia R5) seeded at two and three, Spencer Sport’s Tom Cave/James Morgan (Ford Fiesta R5) seeded at four and the 2013 Nicky Grist Stages winners Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton (Peugeot 208T16) seeded at five.

A magnificent 11 car DMACK Junior BRC entry has been received, with Scottish Rally winners Sindre Furuseth/Jim Hjerpe (Renault Twingo R2) the top seeds.

Plains Rally winners Julian Reynolds/Patrick Walsh are the top seeded Ravenol BTRDA Rally Series crew at number 11 in their ex-Marcus Gronholm 2006 Wales Rally GB winning Focus WRC. Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship leaders Luke Francis/John H Roberts, who won the recent Severn Valley Stages, are seeded at 12 in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, while BTRDA Gold Star leaders Charlie Payne/Carl Williamson (Ford Fiesta) will start at number 14.

An amazing 20 different car manufacturers are represented on the entry list.

The closing date for entries is tomorrow (5 July), and the full seeded entry list can be found in the Competitors’ section of nickygriststages.co.uk.

Teams will arrive in Builth Wells on Friday (8 July) for technical scrutineering, before attending a route briefing and rally forum in Rally Headquarters – which is the Hafod A Hendre building inside the Royal Welsh Showground (adjacent to the Service Area). Crews will face 45 miles of competition on gravel on Saturday 9 July, while the BRC continues the next day with a further 60 miles over the famous Tarmac stages of the Epynt military range.

Neil Cross, Nicky Grist Stages Clerk of the Course, said: “With such a fantastic entry across all the championships, the action this weekend will be fast and furious. We are looking forward to welcoming everyone to the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells on Friday, for the start of what promises to be a fantastic rally. We understand it may be possible for one or two of the championship titles to be settled this weekend as well, and we wish everyone a good safe rally.

Nicky Grist said: “We are in for a real treat this weekend! With the mixture of the leading BRC and BTRDA crews, the pace will be fierce for the lead from the word go. While I am sure the crews will be looking forward to it, I think the spectators will be more so. The fabulous vantage points on the route will make the spectacle come alive.

 

Nicky Grist Stages – Top 10 Starters

  1. Elfyn Evans /Craig Parry (Ford Fiesta R5)
  2. Fredrik Åhlin/Morten Abrahamsen (Ford Fiesta R5)
  3. David Bogie/Kevin Rae (ŠKODA Fabia R5)
  4. Tom Cave/James Morgan (Ford Fiesta R5)
  5. Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton (Peugeot 208T16)
  6. Josh Moffett/John Rowan (Ford Fiesta R5)
  7. Desi Henry/Liam Moynihan (ŠKODA Fabia R5)
  8. Jonathan Greer/Kirsty Riddick (Citroën DS3 R5)
  9. Jamie Anderson/Ross Whittock (Ford Fiesta R5)
  10. Matt Edwards/Will Rogers (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX)

 

Regulations and entry forms are available in the Competitors’ section of www.nickygriststages.co.uk

Q&A with Nicky Grist ahead of Round 5 of the MSA British Rally Championship, the Nicky Grist Stages

As a winner of 21 FIA World Rally Championship events (17, including the 1997 RAC Rally, co-driving for Colin McRae), the title sponsor of Round 5 of the MSA British Rally Championship, the Nicky Grist Stages (9-10 July), knows a thing or two about rallying! Still as actively involved in the sport as ever – he owns Nicky Grist Motorsports, the sole UK importer of Stilo helmets, and is an MSA Academy Co-driver Training Coach – this is the sixth year that Nicky has sponsored the award-winning event.

The Nicky Grist Stages hosts a round of the BRC for the first time in its 36-year history – and to celebrate this, Quinton Motor Club has organised a new two-day mixed-surface rally, with 45 stage miles on gravel on Saturday 9 July, followed by a further 60 stage miles on Tarmac over the Epynt military ranges on Sunday 10 July.

With the event fast approaching, we spoke to Nicky about this year’s route and what he believes will be the key to success, as an international field travels to Builth Wells for what promises to be a spectacular rally.

When did you decide on a new mixed-surface event for your first appearance in the BRC and what have been the main challenges in organising it?

It’s an idea we’ve had for a couple of years now, to make the Nicky Grist Stages a mixture of gravel and Tarmac, and when we had the opportunity to become a round of the MSA British Rally Championship, that cemented the idea. It was the perfect opportunity to have a day dedicated to gravel and another day dedicated to Tarmac. It has been relatively straightforward to organise, because Quinton Motor Club and the Clerk of the Course, Neil Cross, are such a fantastic group of highly experienced rally organisers that organising a mixed-surface event was no issue at all for them. It’s brought some new elements into the planning of the event of course, like flexi-service and overnight parc ferme. The main challenge on the Tarmac sections was to make sure that every stage counts towards the overall results, and that there will be no problems with the average speeds of the top R5 cars, and I’m confident we’ve achieved that in our route planning.

What different challenges will a mixed-surface event pose to drivers, co-drivers and teams?

They’ll have to go from one day driving on gravel, straight into the next day driving on asphalt – which are two very different driving techniques – without any testing whatsoever. That’s going to be a challenge, because you can brake so much later on Tarmac and the corner speeds are so much higher, yet crews will have to be on it from the word go on day two, without any practice in between. Mechanics will only have two and a half hours to turn a rally car from gravel to full Tarmac spec in the service area at the Royal Welsh Showground, which normally takes a day or two in a fully-equipped workshop environment. That’s going to be a challenge and something that I know mechanics are going to relish – and it will give spectators something fantastic to watch in service on the Saturday evening.

The four gravel stages are quite different – what are the characteristics of Crychan, Halfway, Route 60 and Monument?

We’re very fortunate to have on our event some of the best gravel stages in Wales, and Crychan, Halfway, Route 60 and Monument are full of character. Crychan has a lot more junctions and a few tighter corners for the drivers to negotiate, and it really is a wonderful stage. Halfway is somewhat similar, and there is a lovely section where the road is nicely cambered, which you won’t find on any of the other stages. Route 60 is run entirely on MOD land. It’s very hard gravel run on open moorland, so it’s very fast in places and high-speed commitment is essential to win this stage. There is also a small section of Tarmac near the end of Route 60, to give the drivers an extra challenge. Monument is another MOD stage, full of character and a great stage to drive. I’m sure crews will enjoy the challenge of all the gravel stages this year, which are tackled twice.

Can you offer any tips to drivers and co-drivers heading to these wonderful forest stages for the first time?

The high-speed nature of the gravel stages will certainly benefit the people who have done them before. Anyone driving them for the first time will need to make sure their pace notes are right, enabling them to gain confidence in year one for a more concerted effort in year two. Saying that, a driver with great car control and commitment will extract the very best from these stages, owing to their outstanding driveability.

After the gravel of day one it will be all change for day two, with 60 miles on Tarmac for the BRC crews. What can you say about the asphalt route chosen?

The Nicky Grist Stages joined the 2016 British Rally Championship calendar quite late in the day, and by then there were certain sections that were unavailable owing to army training operations on the ranges. However, we have a fantastic relationship with the MOD and they have been extremely accommodating, so we are actually using around ninety per cent of the Tarmac roads that could be used. The Tarmac roads on the Epynt military range are exceptionally fast, and not for the faint-hearted! They’re so fast that we’ve had to introduce a necessary evil, chicanes, to slow the average speeds down. We want every stage to count towards the overall results, so we’ve positioned these chicanes mostly in very high-speed straight-line locations, where the rally will not be won or lost. There are still a lot of high commitment sections of road left open for drivers to prove their ability and bravery.

Day two starts and finishes with the two longest stages of the BRC event. Will these be the key asphalt stages, or are there more surprises in between?

While all the stages will be important, anyone showing a good turn of speed will maximise their opportunities on the longest stages. The first Tarmac stage on day two is one of the longest of the event, and I think this is where the eventually winners will show their mettle. After the previous day competing on gravel, there will be no time to bed yourself into the Tarmac stages, as it will be flat-out from the word go – so the crew that can adapt quickest to driving fast on Tarmac will be able to gain valuable time.

This year’s Nicky Grist Stages will have a new VIP hospitality marquee at Llandeilo’r Fan Triangle. What can guests look forward to?

As a vantage point, I would say that the VIP hospitality marquee at Llandeilo’r Fan Triangle is the best place to watch a motorsport event from in the UK, because it’s right next to the action, you can see the cars for a long time and you can see them on gravel and Tarmac from the same location. There will be a five star marquee set up, great food and drink and excellent company – all on the top of the Epynt military ranges, with stunning views down to the Brecon Beacons. What more can you ask for?

What would be your Nicky Grist Stages strategy, if you were contesting the event in the co-driver’s seat and out to win?

Motivation of the driver is absolutely key, as the Nicky Grist Stages will be a rally of commitment, not endurance. Concise and clear pace note reading is vital to boost the driver’s confidence, and for them to perform at the very best of their abilities. There will be no let up. The winner of this year’s rally will have to perform well on every stage, and be willing to fight for every second on both the gravel and Tarmac stages.

 

Regulations and entry forms are available in the Competitors’ section of www.nickygriststages.co.uk

Rally championships finely balanced as 180 crews look forward to the Nicky Grist Stages

This year’s Nicky Grist Stages (9-10 July) is the only event to host a round of both the MSA British Rally Championship and Ravenol BTRDA Rally Series – together with the Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship and a host of other top class British championships.

Quinton Motor Club has organised 45 stage miles on gravel for Saturday 9 July, over the magnificent loose-surface roads of Crychan, Halfway, Route 60 and Monument. The only mixed-surface round of the BRC continues on Sunday 10 July, with a further 60 miles over the fantastic Tarmac stages of the Epynt military range.

With a capacity entry of 180 crews, along with team personnel, rally fans and officials now preparing to travel to the event’s host town of Builth Wells, we take a look how the various championships stand, and who are likely to be the key players at this year’s Nicky Grist Stages.

 

MSA British Rally Championship

Elfyn Evans has retaken the lead in the MSA British Rally Championship, after the DMACK British Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5 driver won round four of the series, the RSAC Scottish Rally, last weekend. The Welshman arrives in Builth Wells, just down the A470 from his home in Dolgellau, 20 points ahead of Fredrik Åhlin in the drivers’ standings. All the BRC events are new to the Swedish driver, who has been a revelation in his CA1 Sport-prepared Fiesta R5 and who led the series after taking victory on the Pirelli Carlisle Rally. However, a second retirement of the season in Scotland leaves Åhlin promising to “push like hell” on the Nicky Grist Stages, as he aims for nothing less than wins. Tom Cave is third in his Spencer Sport Fiesta R5 – the Welshman’s last appearance in the Epynt forests ended at the bottom of a ravine after a pre-BRC season accident on the Red Kite Rally, but he’s been on great form ever since and returns full of confidence. Monaghan’s Josh Moffett is Ireland’s top placed BRC driver in fourth, while the first non-Fiesta R5 is the Citroën DS3 R5 of Jonny Greer, who brings to Builth Wells a great deal of gravel and Tarmac rally experience. After retiring from his Joker-playing home round, Scotland’s David Bogie will be out to make amends in his ŠKODA Fabia R5 – a car that Desi Henry, Neil Simpson and Tom Preston will also be piloting. There is a great battle in the under 26-year old DMACK Junior BRC category, with the Vauxhall Motorsport Junior Rally Team Adam R2 pairing of Robert Duggan and Mattias Adielsson fighting with the Ford Fiesta R2s of Gus Greensmith, Josh Cornwell Meirion Evans, Adam Bustard and Blair Brown – although it was Sindre Furuseth who won last time out in his Renault Twingo R2. Matt Edwards leads the BRC2 production series in his Mitsubishi Evo 9.

 

Ravenol BTRDA Rally Series

Another good result on the Nicky Grist Stages would make it extremely difficult for anyone to stop Charlie Payne becoming 2016 Ravenol BTRDA Gold Star champion. Co-driven by Carl Williamson, the Fiesta driver has posted two wins, two seconds and one fourth, and with six scores from eight rallies to count, that run of success puts him in a very strong position. After five rounds Andy Davies is second in the overall drivers’ standings, and after an excellent season so far the Lampeter man is also leading the Production Cup category in his Group N Subaru Impreza. Steve Simpson (Fiesta S2000) is third, Paul Benn (Focus WRC02) is fourth and Luke Francis (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) is fifth – although with two wins, one second and two DNFs, a good run on the Nicky Grist Stages could see the Rhuddlan driver launch a late challenge for the title. Likewise, with two DNFs to his name, Stephen Petch (Fiesta R5+) needs a strong run of points-scoring finishes from now on to keep his title hopes alive. The race for the BTRDA Silver Star title is wide open, with Caernarfon’s Gavin Edwards (Escort), leading Llandovery’s Cameron Davies (Fiesta ST), while defending champion Boyd Kershaw (Escort Mk2) is third. In the Thomas Panels BTRDA 1400 Championship, Neil Andrew leads Karl Davies (both Nissan Micra), while Dominique Hodge (Micra) leads the Rally First category, five points ahead of top lady driver Emily Retallick (Peugeot 205)

 

Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship

Luke Francis and co-driver John H Roberts lead the Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship, after recording their fourth maximum points score of the season on the Severn Valley Stages in their Mitsubishi Evo 9. Dylan Davies (Subaru Impreza) finished second on the most recent event to maintain second in the points standings, 30 points behind the leader. Andrew Jones arrives in Builth Wells third overall and leading both the Vital Equipment Junior Welsh Championship for drivers’ and the two-wheel drive category in his Ford Escort. Andy Davies slipped from second to fourth in the overall standings after retiring from the Severn Valley with fuel pump problems on his Subaru Impreza, although he continues to lead Group N. Brecon’s Sara Williams claimed Group N honours last time out, on her first rally in nearly seven months. Just three points separate fifth place defending Group N champion Paul Davy (Subaru) and Wug Utting (Subaru), while New Zealander Boyd Kershaw (Escort) is seventh. Luke Francis also leads the Ravenol Welsh Challenge from Andrew Jones, while four drivers are tied on points in third place.

 

HRCR Stage Masters Challenge

The Nicky Grist Stages marks the mid-way point of this new challenge for historic cars, which allows competitors to pick and choose their favourite gravel and Tarmac events and which has a points scoring system that gives everyone a chance of becoming overall champion. It’s proven to be a big success, with 20 registered crews and a fantastic mix of cars including Minis, Hillman Avengers, Datsuns, Opel Asconas, Porsches and of course Escort Mk1s and Mk2s. Northern Island’s Stanley Orr (Escort Mk1) currently leads the standings, having scored maximum points in all three previous rounds. Business commitments forces Orr to miss the Nicky Grist Stages, but his co-driver Guy Weaver hopes to maintain his lead in the navigators’ table as he partners Rudi Lancaster (Escort Mk1). Quinton MC members Peter Barlow/Mark Dillon will be aiming for Escort Mk2 honours, having recently finished repairing their car. Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride will be ones to watch in their Porsche 911, while Rikki Proffitt/Graham Wild will be aiming to end a run of bad luck on gravel with a good run in their Datsun 240Z.

 

ANWCC Forest Rally Championship

At the halfway point in the 2016 ANWCC Forest Rally Championship, Dolgellau driver Siôn Ellis holds a commanding lead in his Nissan Sunny – and regardless of the result on the Nicky Grist Stages, he will continue to be ahead of the closely grouped pack. Matthew Jackson is currently in the runners-up position, having led for a time in his Nissan Micra. 2015 champion Jayne Auden-Row is just one point behind Jackson, having forsaken her championship-winning MG for a Lancer for most of this year’s events. Small cars dominate with Paul Ellis fourth in his ŠKODA Favorit that has been returned to competition after a few years parked in his back yard! Scotsman Richard Crozier heads the co-drivers’ table, having contested all six qualifying rounds in a variety of cars, while North Walian Caron Tomlinson is second and Ian Jones third. Ladies take up the next two co-drivers places – fourth overall is currently Heather Merrison in her first season, whilst Jackson’s co-driver Claire Williams is close behind. The championship includes awards for best front- and rear-wheel drive competitors as well as novice, junior and senior awards.

 

FMP Rally Challenge

With three sealed surface and two forestry rallies having taken place, crews who just compete on gravel will be looking to redress the balance with 48 FMP Rally Challenge contenders already entered. Company Director Nev Jones brings his Vulcan Fasteners Subaru S7 WRC from Staffordshire and is aiming to take the FMP Gravel Cup from Cardiganshire’s Dylan Davies this year. Nev’s co-driver Chris Davies is in the running to win the FMP Junior title. BTRDA Production Cup leader Andy Davies with Max Freeman will be their closest rivals. A certain top 10 current position in the standings was thwarted when Chepstow’s Sacha Kakad retired on the Lawrence Landfill Stages in Dale in a hired Evo 10. He scored a class win on reserve round, the Severn Valley Stages, and he and Chesterfield driver Rhys Yates could still potentially become overall victors. Current junior and overall leader, 22-year old Siobahn Pugh from Newton, hangs on to the co-driver’s lead despite missing the last round, the Midsummer Stages at Caerwent. She has entered with fellow contender Siôn Ellis in a Nissan Sunny. Siobahn is hoping to emulate inaugural FMP Champion Claire Williams who took both titles in 2013 and who is competing with John Easson award winner Matthew Jackson. Claire is currently the leading BTRDA female co-driver. After an outing on the Red Kite Stages, current leading driver Wynne Watkins has vowed to stick to Tarmac and a 3rd in class on his optional nominated overseas round, the Manx Trophy Rally, gives him a four point lead. In a bid to help raise the profile of the championships chosen charity, the Wales Air Ambulance, Elfyn Evans and Osian Pryce have registered and will carry FMP colours on selected rounds which coincide with the BRC.

 

Neil Cross, Nicky Grist Stages Clerk of the Course, said: “We welcome each of the championships that the Nicky Grist Stages count towards to Builth Wells. With a capacity entry the battles that have developed so far this season will continue on the classic gravel and asphalt stages we have put together. It has become a tradition that class and sometimes overall championships will be decided on the Nicky Grist Stages, and we wait to see how things unfold this year. What ever happens Quinton Motor Club has worked hard to put the event on for you all.

 

Regulations and entry forms are available in the Competitors’ section of www.nickygriststages.co.uk

Nicky Grist Stages route confirmed – all NRW gravel forest roads to be used as originally planned

An agreement between Quinton Motor Club, the Motor Sports Association (MSA) and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has been reached, whereby all the 45 gravel stage mile route of the Nicky Grist Stages (9-10 July) will run as originally planned.

The continuing negotiations between the MSA and NRW had given Quinton Motor Club, the event organisers, a number of route options – but the agreement sees the best possible route confirmation outcome for the event and for the 180 crews who have already entered.

This means that all the 5.92 mile Crychan forest stage will be used as originally intended, along with the opening 2.45 miles of the 6.05 mile Halfway stage. The other two gravel stages, Route 60 (4.92 miles) and Monument (5.46 miles) are run entirely on military land. All four gravel stages will be run twice on Saturday 9 July, meaning a fantastic 44.70 miles of competition for competitors in the MSA British Rally Championship, Ravenol BTRDA Rally Series, Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship, HRCR Stage Masters Challenge, ANWCC Forest Rally Championship, ANWCC Historic Stage Rally Championship and FMP Rally Challenge.

The BRC will continue onto day two (Sunday 10 July), where there will be a further 10 stages on Tarmac over the famous Epynt military ranges. Four stages – Quarry (4.39 miles), Cilieni (4.52 miles), Deers (4.42 miles) and Tank (4.36 miles) – will be tackled twice, together with New Road (11.77 miles) and ending with the longest stage of the event, Drovers Return (11.84 miles). Day two’s competitive distance totals 58.99 miles, giving BRC competitors an overall total stage distance of 103.43 miles.

On the Saturday, centralised servicing will be located at the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells, while on the Sunday there will be a remote service on the Epynt ranges. All stages will be run in daylight.

Rob Jones, MSA Chief Executive, said: “Against the background of continuing detailed discussions between the MSA and NRW, and in the spirit of those discussions, an accommodation has been reached allowing the 2016 Nicky Grist Stages to run as planned.

Neil Cross, Nicky Grist Stages Clerk of the Course, said: “Now we have agreement from NRW to run our original route we are pleased the uncertainty is over. It has been a testing few weeks but our plans can now be realised 100%. We are grateful to both the NRW and the MSA for facilitating this agreement.

Nicky Grist said: “Now we have the green light for go! I am absolutely delighted. Quinton Motor Club has worked hard to get to this point and now it can focus more positively on running a great rally for everyone.

 

Regulations and entry forms are available in the Competitors’ section of www.nickygriststages.co.uk