Quinton Motor Club is gearing up for what promises to be a fantastic festival of rallying in mid-Wales on Saturday 9 July when competitors from six major rally championships gather in Builth Wells for the 2022 Nicky Grist Stages.
The event will play host to the Motorsport UK British Rally Championship for the fourth time. Twice the winners of the Nicky Grist Stages – Elfyn Evans/Craig Parry (Ford Fiesta R5) in 2016 and Matt Edwards/Darren Garrod (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5) in 2021 – have gone on to become British champions in the same year, while the 2017 event winners Fredrik Åhlin/Torstein Eriksen (Škoda Fabia R5) finished runners-up.
This year’s Nicky Grist Stages will be the 37th consecutive time that the event has secured a place on the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series calendar. Many of the previous event winners have also gone on to become BTRDA champions, most recently Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton (Ford Focus WRC) in 2019.
The Pirelli Ravenol Welsh Rally Championship will not only bring some of the best Welsh rallying talent to Builth Wells, but from around the UK as well – with the likes Matthew Hirst (Ford Fiesta R5+), Dylan Davies (Škoda Fabia R5+) and Tom Llewellin (Mitsubishi Mirage) all expected to resume their close battle for the Welsh drivers’ title.
In addition, this year’s Nicky Grist Stages will be a round of the HRCR Rally Master Challenge. When the Historic Rally Car Register was founded in 1984 it was the first organisation of its kind, and today it’s the largest. It will bring a huge variety of historic rally cars to the event, all driven with the same commitment and determination as the modern-day machinery.
ANWCC Rally Championship will be coming to Builth Wells again this summer. Whilst it stands for the Association of North-Western Car Clubs, the ANWCC has over 120 member clubs covering the northern half of England, most of Wales, parts of Scotland and the Isle of Man.
Finally, the event will host a round of the Independent Paint Supplies (IPS) Rally Challenge, which is a hugely popular series which raises funds for the Wales Air Ambulance.
And it will be lucky 13 for the Nicky Grist Stages in 2022, as it celebrates 13 consecutive years of title sponsorship from Nicky Grist Motorsports.
Last year’s Nicky Grist Stages was the first major rally to run in Wales after the Covid-19 enforced suspension of motorsport events was lifted and it had to adhere to all Covid protocol rules and requirements. These included limiting the number of people allowed into the service area, no finish ceremony and, at the request of the landowners, no spectators.
All these restrictions will be lifted this summer.
With the support of Powys County Council, Builth Wells Town Council and the businesses and residents of Builth Wells, the 2022 event will move back into the centre of the famous market town. With the main high street a matter of metres away from the service area, rally teams will be able to buy food from the local shops – as well as tools, clothes, mobile phones and get their hair cut and restyled if they wish!
The start of the event will be held in Strand Street, outside the wonderful Strand Hall which will be rally headquarters. The mid-day service halt will be located on the nearby Builth Wells RFC pitch and the finish ceremonies will be in Groe Park, on the banks of the River Wye and with Builth Wells’ 18th Century bridge and surrounding rolling hills providing a stunning backdrop.
Scrutineering will take place the day before the event (Friday 8 July) at North Road Garage; the local Toyota dealership (owned by Eian Pritchard and his family) located just a stone’s throw away from the service area on the other side of the river.
The event will contain 44 stage miles, with a loop of four stages run in the morning and repeated in the afternoon. The compact route will have just 80 road miles.
“This summer we will run our tried and tested one-day event format featuring some of the very best classic gravel stages on the Epynt military range and in the Halfway and Crychan forest complex,” says Neil Cross, Nicky Grist Stages Clerk of the Course.
“With the full support and co-operation of the landowners, namely Natural Resources Wales and Defence Infrastructure Organisation Wales, this year’s stages will include a few interesting tweaks that will provide competitors with some new sections of top-quality roads, some of which have never been used on the Nicky Grist Stages before.
“The route survey has been done and we’re delighted with both the road conditions and the format of this year’s event, and we’re confident that it will be a great challenge befitting all the six major rally championships that the Nicky Grist Stages will host.
“We are also delighted to be moving back into the centre of Builth Wells, with the service area returning to the rugby pitch and the start and finish ceremonies taking place in the town centre as well. It should bring a great carnival atmosphere to the town and we must thank Powys County Council, Builth Wells Town Council and the residents and local business owners for all their continued support.
“And a big thank you to Nicky Grist for not just supporting the event as title sponsor for thirteen years, but for his friendship, knowledge and tremendous enthusiasm.”
“2021 will go down in the history of the Nicky Grist Stages as one of the greats because it was organised in very short time and with the huge challenge of Covid-19 rules and protocols, and Quinton Motor Club did an exceptional job,” says Nicky Grist.
“They have not been resting on their laurels and have been working hard to organise an even better event that will use the classic gravel roads on Epynt, Halfway and Crychan forests. Stages we know competitors enjoy so much.
“The Clerk of the Course has put together some great stages with some subtle changes in the route. Some of which have not been used for a long while and some sections have never been used on the rally before. The roads are in great condition and a brilliant day’s competition will be in store for everyone.
“Bringing the event back into Builth Wells is important to us and we encourage all visitors to the rally to use the cafes, coffee shops and other local amenities during the event.
“I look forward to welcoming you to Builth Wells in July.”
Rally Guide 1 for the 2022 Nicky Grist Stages is now available to view and download on the event’s website (nickygriststages.co.uk) and on the Sportity app (password: NGS2022).
2022 Nicky Grist Stages – important dates and times
Monday 23 May, 18:00 – Entries open for registered championship contenders and Quinton Motor Club members
Monday 30 May, 18:00 – Entries open for all entries
Friday 1 July, 20:00 – Seeded entries close
Monday 4 July, 18:00 – Final Instructions and route details available
Wednesday 6 July, 18:00 – Entries close
Friday 8 July, 15:00-20:30 – Scrutineering at North Road Garage
Friday 8 July, 15:00-19:00 – Recce
Saturday 9 July, 08.31 – First car starts
Saturday 9 July, 15:30 – First car finishes
Picture by Paul Mitchell Photography.