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.”