10 rally championships come to Builth Wells this summer for the economy-boosting Nicky Grist Stages
This summer’s Nicky Grist Stages (8-9 July) will play host to no less than 10 different rally championships – highlighting not only what a major sporting attraction the event now is, but also a major boost for the economy of Builth Wells, Llanelwedd and the nearby Powys and Carmarthenshire towns and villages.
Organised by Quinton Motor Club, this year’s Nicky Grist Stages is, for the second year running, the only event to host a round of both the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship and Ravenol BTRDA Rally Series – meaning that Britain’s best rally drivers will be coming to the region. It is also a round of eight other championships too, including the Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship, MAXXIS MSA English Championship, BTRDA Rally First, Fiesta ST Trophy and FMP Rally Challenge – attracting the best regional and young up-and-coming drivers to mid-Wales.
The event will be based at the Royal Welsh Showground, with around 45 loose-surface stage miles planned for Saturday (8 July) in the forests of Crychan, Halfway, Route 60 and Monument. Only around a quarter of the forest stage miles will be held on Natural Resources Wales land, helping to keep the cost of running and participating on the event down. Sunday (9 July) will see a further 75 asphalt stage miles over the famous fast, undulating and spectacular Epynt military ranges.
To accommodate all 10 rally championships over the two day rally festival, there will be effectively three rallies in one. The split is as follows:
Nicky Grist Stages BRC (two day Saturday and Sunday event)
Prestone MSA British Rally Championship
FMP Rally Challenge
Nicky Grist Stages (one day Saturday event)
Ravenol BTRDA Rally Series
Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship
MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship
BTRDA 1400 Championship
BTRDA Rally First
Fiesta ST Trophy
MG ZR Rally Challenge
FMP Rally Challenge
ANWCC Forest Rally Championship
Spencer Sport Acropolis Rally (one day Sunday event)
MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship
FMP Rally Challenge
The Sunday rally will be sponsored by Llandysul-based rally team Spencer Sport, and will be known as the Spencer Sport Acropolis Rally – which pays homage to one of the very earliest events ever organised by Quinton MC. Soon after the club was formed in 1959, Quinton MC ran (amongst others) the Acropolis Rally from the mid-1960s onwards. It became a hugely popular Welsh Championship night road rally, however it has not taken place in this format since 1986. The club last used the name for a single venue stage event at Wheaton Aston for three years in the late 1980s. So, after an absence of over 25 years, the Acropolis Rally name returns to Quinton MC’s events calendar for 2017.
For the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship crews, this year’s Nicky Grist Stages will be a challenging two-day mixed surface event. For the MAXXIS MSA English Championship competitors, the event will be a double-header, with points awarded after day one and day two.
Neil Cross, Nicky Grist Stages Clerk of the Course, said: “Having so many of the top championships wanting the Nicky Grist Stages to be included in their calendar is a great honour for the event and a testament of the challenge the event will pose. We learnt a great deal from last year’s event and we are planning a truly fantastic experience for all our competitors, regardless of championship. On a personal note it is pleasing that we can bring back an iconic name in Quinton MC’s rallying history. As an organiser I started with both the D’Isis and Acropolis Rallies, and to bring back the Acropolis Rally name evokes many wonderful memories.”
Nicky Grist said: “When I started sponsoring the Nicky Grist Stages, I did not imagine that we would become a qualifying event for ten different championships. This is testimony to the hard work of all the main officials and Quinton Motor Club, who work really hard to make it, what it is fair to say, the biggest rally in the UK behind Wales Rally GB. The Sunday format has change to accommodate the Acropolis Rally, and twelve stages in a day will offer a real challenge.”
Nicky Grist Stages wins prestigious 2016 BTRDA ‘Rally of the Year’ award
The Nicky Grist Stages has won the prestigious Bill Turner Trophy for the Best Event in the 2016 Ravenol BTRDA Rally Series.
It’s the fourth time that the Quinton Motor Club-organised rally has won the award, having lifted the trophy in 2005, 2010 and 2012. It has also been nominated as one of the top three best organised BTRDA Rally Series events for the last six years in succession.
Luke Francis/John Roberts (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) scored BTRDA Rally Series victory on the Nicky Grist Stages last year, finishing over a minute ahead of Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson (Ford Fiesta R5+), with Paul Benn/Richard Cooke (Ford Focus WRC02) coming home in third. Charlie Payne/Carl Williamson (Ford Fiesta) led until electrical problems put them out, although that didn’t stop them becoming 2016 BTRDA Rally Series champions at season end.
In addition to the BTRDA ‘Rally of the Year’ award, which was presented to Quinton MC at the recent BTRDA awards evening at the Ramada Hotel in Sutton Coldfield, the 2016 Nicky Grist Stages also won the Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship Event of the Year award.
Quinton MC is currently busy finalising route details for this year’s Nicky Grist Stages – which will run over the weekend of 8-9 July. 2017 celebrates the 37th running of Quinton MC’s forest stage rally, the 30th consecutive year of it hosting a round of the BTRDA Rally Series, the seventh year of title sponsorship from Nicky Grist Motorsports and its second appearance as a round of the MSA British Rally Championship. Based at the Royal Welsh Showground near Builth Wells, this year’s event will retain its popular 2016 two-day mixed surface format, with gravel stages in the forests on the Saturday (8 July), and BRC crews continuing over the Tarmac stage of Epynt on the Sunday (9 July).
Neil Cross, Nicky Grist Stages Clerk of the Course, said: “Organising and running an event as big as the Nicky Grist Stages is a team effort and this award is a testimony to the hard work put in by everybody. Last year was the biggest challenge the event has ever faced; bringing three major championships together was tough but maintaining the quality the BTRDA has come to expect was one of our highest priorities and the fact we achieved that and were recognised by the BTRDA with the Bill Turner award for Best Event is something we are all extremely proud of.”
Nicky Grist Stages on 8-9 July 2017 adds new national rally to its two-day mixed surface BRC spectacular
Next year’s Nicky Grist Stages (8-9 July) will host round five of the 2017 MSA British Rally Championship (BRC) – and whilst that will be a two-day mixed surface event, there will also be one-day rounds of other major championships, including the Ravenol BTRDA Rally Series, run on both the Saturday and Sunday next summer.
Organised by Quinton Motor Club, the date of the 2017 Nicky Grist Stages had been published as 15-16 July, but owing to MOD activities on the Epynt military range, the event will take place one week earlier on 8-9 July – the corresponding weekend to 2016, which saw 162 cars start from the Royal Welsh Showground.
Next year’s event will follow a similar format to 2016, with a mixed-surface two-day rally for the BRC crews. Saturday’s forestry gravel stages, run in the spectacular Carmarthenshire and Powys border region, will also host a round of the BTRDA Rally Series and include the MSA Welsh Rally Championship and the FMP Rally Challenge. Sunday’s stages will be held over the challenging asphalts road of Epynt for the BRC crews, plus at least one other National B event.
Builth Wells will play host to the ceremonial start and finish, the main service area will be in the nearby Royal Welsh Showground and there will be a new remote service area on Epynt on the Sunday.
Neil Cross, Nicky Grist Stages Clerk of the Course, said: “Whilst the popular two-day gravel on Saturday and Tarmac on Sunday format of next year’s Nicky Grist Stages will be similar to 2016, the event has acted on the excellent and positive feedback received from competitors and will have a slightly different feel to it. We’ve worked closely with Natural Resources Wales and Rally4Wales to introduce some fresh gravel stages, whilst we’re looking at extending the Tarmac stage mileage on day two and also run a National B event on the Sunday as well.”
Nicky Grist said: “The gravel route of next year’s Nicky Grist Stages is pretty much all confirmed, and we are truly blessed to have some of the very best forestry stages in Wales right on our doorstep. We’ll have a different route layout for the Sunday’s asphalt stages, which will allow the event to breathe. We’ll have a later start and a later finish, and we hope to run as much as seventy stage miles on the Sunday. Cars will still start at thirty-second intervals on the Tarmac – this makes it action-packed for the spectators, and has proven to keep the roaming sheep off the road, which is an important safety consideration.”
Iain Campbell, BRC Championship Manager, said: “The Nicky Grist Stages proves once and for all that rallying is a team sport. The driver and co-driver may be the stars out on the stages, but the mixed-surface challenge from this rally means that the mechanics are the stars on Saturday night when they only have 180 minutes to change the complete suspension parts, brakes and roll bars on the cars. This year there were a lot of anxious faces around the service park as the end of day service began that were exchanged for high-fives and applause all around each competitor’s area as they all completed the set up change in time. A unique challenge on an event that offers stages with the unique terrain of Eypnt – the Nicky Grist Stages is somewhere the BRC is looking forward to going back to in 2017.”
2017 MSA British Rally Championship calendar
17-18 March…..Border Counties (Jedburgh)
29-30 April…..Pirelli Carlisle Rally (Carlisle)
19-20 May…..RSAC Scottish Rally (Dumfries)
23-24 June…..Ypres Rally (Ypres, Belgium)
8-9 July…..Nicky Grist Stages (Builth Wells)
18-19 August…..Ulster Rally (Derry/Londonderry)
14-16 September…..Rally Isle of Man (Douglas)
2017 Ravenol BTRDA Rally Series calendar
11 February…..Cambrian Rally (Llandudno)
11 March…..Malcolm Wilson Rally (Cockermouth)
8 April…..Somerset Stages (Minehead)
13 May…..Plains Rally (Welshpool)
10 June…..Carlisle Stages Rally (Carlisle)
8 July…..Nicky Grist Stages (Builth Wells)
2 September…..Woodpecker Stages (Ludlow)
30 September…..Trackrod Forest Stages (Pickering)