Andreas Mikkelsen says that he is “honoured” to still have a trophy on the Nicky Grist Stages (9-10 July) named after him, 10 years after he won the Quinton Motor Club-organised event.
The Norwegian driver – who is now an established star in the Volkswagen Motorsport World Rally Championship team – won the Quinton Stages (as it was called then) in 2006. Victory came just 16 days after his 17th birthday, making Mikkelsen the youngest ever winner of a British national rally.
The Rally First ‘Stars of the Day’ Andreas Mikkelsen Award was introduced in 2008, the year the Rally First category within the BTRDA rally series was introduced. The class is aimed at providing young drivers with an affordable route into rallying, with no major modifications allowed (other than safety equipment) and engines no bigger than 1400cc.
The first winners of the award were Quinton MC members James and Simon McLean in 2008. They have been followed by David Bennett/Alistair McNeil (2009), Ashley Slights/Thomas Hughes (2010), Harry Morgan/James Ford (2011), Joe Evett/Calvin Houldsworth (2012), Nick Carr/Joe Sturdy (2013), Sam Bilham/Graham Wild (2014) and last year John and Duncan Freeman won the award.
As in all previous occasions, this year’s winners of the Rally First ‘Stars of the Day’ Andreas Mikkelsen Award will be judged by Nicky Grist and the organising team – and it won’t necessarily be the winner of the Rally First category, as sportsmanship, determination, overcoming problems and driving flair are all taken into account.
This summer’s Nicky Grist Stages is the only event to host a round of both the MSA British Rally Championship and BTRDA rally series – and with other major championships like the MSA Welsh Rally Championship and the Stage Masters Historic Stage Rally Challenge taking place too, a near capacity 180 car entry is expected.
Andreas Mikkelsen said: “I have some really good memories from my win in 2006, in the very beginning of my life as a rally driver. I will never ever forget that event! It was a fantastic event and the stages were great – some of them I get to have fun on when the WRC visits. Even when starting Wales Rally GB, it still boosts me that I have this valuable experience on these roads. I’m very honoured that, even after all these years, there is an award named after me. Naming it the ‘Stars of the Day Award’ certainly puts a bit of pressure on! Best of luck to all the competitors, I can promise you a great time when you drive these stages, and maybe you will be awarded as the star this year! Again, wishing you a great rally!”
Neil Cross, Nicky Grist Stages Clerk of the Course, said: “Over the years we’ve had many famous names enter and win the event now known as the Nicky Grist Stages. Andreas was the youngest ever winner and so it is right that we award the Andreas Mikkelsen Trophy to the Star Driver in the Rally First category. The award isn’t just about pace on the stages it encompasses teamwork, comradeship and determination to succeed, traits Andreas shows in his WRC campaign. Along with the Spirit of the Rally award it is one of the hardest awards to win. Good luck to all those eligible!”
Nicky Grist said: “To have a WRC star like Andreas Mikkelsen on the winner’s trophy is a tremendous honour for the event. To win at such a young age was a fantastic achievement, and it’s entirely appropriate to mark such an historic British national rally victory with an award named after Andreas. We’ve had some very worthy winners of the Rally First ‘Stars of the Day’ Andreas Mikkelsen Award over the last eight years, and I’d like to wish all those who are eligible the very best of luck for this year.”
Regulations and Entry forms are available in the Competitors’ section of www.nickygriststages.co.uk