Welsh rugby international Scott Williams helped launch this year’s alliance between the Nicky Grist Stages (8-9 July) and Go Safe – Wales Road Casualty Reduction Partnership, which is aimed at making sure all those who attend this year’s event drive sensibly and safely on the public highway.
Scott, who won the Guinness Pro12 Final with the Scarlets Rugby last weekend and goes on the summer tour of the South Pacific Islands with the Welsh Rugby Union, is not just a keen motorsport fan, he owns Scott Williams Motorsport, a Lampeter-based team that builds and runs rally cars. It’s a highly successful team too – one of Scott’s Escort Mk2s currently leads the highly competitive Irish Historic Tarmac Championship.
This is the fourth year that the Nicky Grist Stages (a round of 10 rally championships, including the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship, Ravenol BTRDA Rally Series and Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship) and GoSafe have teamed up together, in what has proven to be a very successful partnership. GoSafe will once again have a highly visible roadside presence around the rally’s host town of Builth Wells and routes around the Epynt military ranges. GoSafe’s aim is educating motorists, preventing motoring offences and making people safer on Welsh roads by reducing casualties and saving lives. It isn’t just about speed camera enforcement either – its officers will be encouraging people to drive responsibly and sensibly, wear seatbelts and not overtake on solid white lines. This year’s Nicky Grist Stages takes place just before a two-week campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of using hand-held mobile ‘phones – and GoSafe will be on the event giving out CELLslip pouches which you can put your mobile ‘phone into whilst in your car, which disconnects the signal without you having to adjust any of the ‘phone settings.
Sergeant Ian Price from Dyfed-Powys Police said: “Working with Nick Grist and other motorsports organisations within GoSafe, it’s important that we can interact with their supporters and try to encourage safer driving on the roads. If fans want to drive like rally drivers, there are many motorsport clubs they can join and we appeal to them to not drive like rally drivers on the highway. If they do, they’ll inevitably either become a victim themselves or cause another person to become a victim – and when it comes to death by dangerous driving, you’re looking at fourteen years in prison if you’re convicted. I’ve seen too many lives ruined because of erratic, irresponsible driving. You do get people, especially the young, influenced by motorsport and what they see in films, and they don’t see the consequences of what those risks can present later.
“The GoSafe Partnership, as with any camera partnership, has traditionally been speed enforcement and trying to encourage people to drive slower, but road casualties are not just caused by speeding. It can be inappropriate driving, dangerous driving, overtaking on solid white lines and driving whilst operating a hand held mobile ‘phone. They might even be driving safely and not wearing a seatbelt and we know that if everyone wore seatbelts, we could halve the number of fatalities we see on our roads. Motorists need to consider the range of offences the GoSafe camera vans can pick up. We work closely with the national campaigns, like the mobile ‘phone and seatbelt campaigns, and we will have a highly visible presence on this year’s Nicky Grist Stages. We don’t want to catch anyone committing an offence, we’d rather everyone drives safely and lawfully.”
Scott Williams said: “I jumped at the opportunity to show my support to the Nicky Grist Stages and the GoSafe Partnership. It’s important that people drive safely to and from motorsport events, because we want everyone to enjoy themselves and have a great day out – and leave driving flat-out to the competitors on the stages. When you compete on a stage rally it’s on a closed road, you know that nothing will be driving towards you and you’re in an extremely strong car that’s been built with all the motorsport safety equipment. Living in west Wales I do a lot of miles on the road each year, driving to rugby matches and training camps and driving to motorsport events with my own Scott Williams Motorsport team. It’s important that you drive sensibly on the public road and not only keep yourself safe, but other road users safe as well.”
Nicky Grist said: “Stage rallying gives competitors the opportunity to drive at speed in a controlled manner, but the long-term benefits of rallying in general are not just about what happens on the stages. You need those same competitors, their service crews, all the event officials and all the spectators to drive safely and responsibly on the public road. That’s what gives the local residence, who are perhaps not interested in motorsport and who are going about their normal weekend business, the perception of what’s going on. The partnership between GoSafe and the Nicky Grist Stages is about creating a very positive perception and to help keep road users, both involved in the event and those who are not, safe. And if anyone is inspired by the speed and skill of the drivers competing on the Nicky Grist Stages, getting involved in motorsport is a great way to test your driving ability in a safe and controlled environment. Never do it on the public road.”
Neil Cross, Nicky Grist Stages Clerk of the Course, said: “Our relationship with GoSafe has gone from strength to strength and Quinton Motor Club are thrilled this has carried over to a fourth year. We are keen to show the local communities we travel through that we take their safety as importantly as those of the competitors out on the stages, and this partnership helps us with this. Every year we ask GoSafe for feedback and I am delighted to say that they are always very complimentary about the behaviour of our competitors, officials and spectators.”
Regulations and entry forms are available in the Competitors’ section of www.nickygriststages.co.uk