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