Next year’s Nicky Grist Stages will host no less than six of the UK’s top national rally championships when the Builth Wells-based event takes place on Saturday 10 July 2021, with crews from the prestigious British Rally Championship (BRC) joining the likes of the hugely popular MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series and Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship.
This means that the Quinton Motor Club-organised event, which has won the ‘BTRDA Best Rally of the Year’ award five times, will see the best British national rally crews tackle the classic mid-Wales forest stages of Crychan, Halfway and on the Epynt military ranges in an all-action, one-day, 45 stage mile rally festival.
The Nicky Grist Stages has hosted a round of the BRC twice before, with Elfyn Evans /Craig Parry winning the event in 2016 in a Ford Fiesta R5 and Fredrik Åhlin/Torstein Eriksen winning in a Škoda Fabia R5 in 2017. Next year the event will welcome back national and international crews competing in the very latest R5-spec (Rally 2) cars, in addition to the best up-and-coming drivers battling in the British Junior Rally Championship.
2021 will be the 34th consecutive year that the Nicky Grist Stages has been honoured with a place on the BTRDA Rally Series calendar. In 2019, the event attracted a 130-car entry, with 18 car manufacturers and over 40 different models represented. Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton triumphed, clinching BTRDA Rally Series Gold Star title in Builth Wells after winning in their Ford Focus WRC.
Next year’s rally will celebrate 12 years of consecutive event support and title sponsorship from Nicky Grist Motorsports, and as an ambassador for clubman rallying, Nicky will be keeping his usual keen eye on the battle in the Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship. Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy won that series battle on the Nicky Grist Stages in 2019 in their Mitsubishi Evo 9, and another big entry, featuring a wide variety of cars in a large number of classes, is eagerly anticipated.
Also on the starting list will be crews contesting the Motorsport UK English Rally Championship in association with Seacon UK Ltd, teams in the IPS Paints Rally Challenge (which in addition to being a wonderful rally series raises funds for the Wales Air Ambulance) and hard-charging cars from a bygone era (including Porsche 911s, TR7s, Minis, Escort Mk1/2s and Avengers) in the HRCR Rally Masters Stage Championship.
This year’s Nicky Grist Stages was cancelled because of the Covid-19 restrictions, and the 2021 route will be different to the one that was planned for 2020, as other sections of the forests (some of which haven’t been used for rallying for many years) become available.
Thanks to the wonderful support from Powys County Council, Builth Wells Town Council and the people and businesses of Builth Wells, next summer’s event will once again be based in the town centre, as it was in 2019.
Rally headquarters will be in the magnificent Strand Hall in Strand Street, both the start and finish ceremonies will be held in the town and the service area – where crews will fettle their rally cars during the midday service halt between the morning and afternoon loop of stages – will be located on the Builth Wells rugby club pitch. North Road Garage will once again provide the superb pre-event scrutineering venue.
Neil Cross, Nicky Grist Stages Clerk of the Course, said: “With the announcement that we are to be a round of the British Rally Championship, I’m delighted that the final piece of the jigsaw has slotted into place. It will be a pleasure for the Nicky Grist Stages to welcome the BRC to Builth Wells alongside the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series, Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship, Motorsport UK English Rally Championship in association with Seacon UK Ltd, IPS Paints Rally Challenge and the HRCR Rally Masters Stage Championship. Bringing together the best championships to compete on the world famous stages in Crychan, Halfway and on the Eypnt ranges will be fantastic for the event, Builth Wells and Welsh rallying.”
Nicky Grist said: “I am delighted that the British Rally Championship has returned to the Nicky Grist Stages. Having the best of British rally sport in terms of the BRC, BTRDA, Welsh and other championships all on the same event, competing on the same stages, will be a fantastic opportunity to allow all crews to match their performances – while the brilliant stages that we have in and around the Epynt military ranges will offer a proper test for both crews and cars alike. I look forward to catching up with all competitors in July”