Welsh rugby star Scott Williams to debut new home-built Escort on this weekend’s Nicky Grist Stages

Fresh from touring the South Pacific Islands, Welsh rugby international Scott Williams will debut a brand new Escort Mk2 on day two of the Nicky Grist Stages – when he drives the course opening zero car on the combined Prestone MSA British Rally Championship qualifying round and the stand-alone Spencer Sport Acropolis Rally (Sunday 9 July).

The new car has been built by his own Lampeter-based Scott Williams Motorsport team and will be seen for the very first time on the event. Established in April 2016, SWM has already enjoying great success – with another one of Scott’s Mk2 Escorts currently leading the highly competitive Irish Historic Tarmac Championship.

For the Guinness Pro12 winning Scarlets Rugby centre, the Quinton Motor Club organised Nicky Grist Stages will be his first visit to the famous asphalt roads of the Epynt military range. Not only will Scott’s appearance be a huge draw to the many Welsh sports fans who will travel to Epynt to watch the rally, he’ll also play a vital role in the safe running of the event.

Scott Williams said: “I’ve never driven as part of the Safety Car Team on Epynt before, so I’m really looking forward to it. Epynt is well known in rallying as a very tough and challenging venue – very fast and narrow, with blind crests and no margin for error. I’ll be driving the Zero Car on the Sunday, so whilst we’re not competing, we travel at around eighty per cent competitive speed, so we won’t be going slowly either! My business, Scott Williams Motorsport, is building a brand new car, and the Nicky Grist Stages will be its first reveal. We want as many people to see the new car as possible, so running in front of the competitors on a round of the British Rally Championship is a fantastic opportunity to do just that. It’s going to be a lot of fun but we have a serious job to do ensuring the safety of both the competitors and spectators. I haven’t managed to talk Nicky [Grist] into co-driving for me yet – he said that he wants to see me drive first!

Nicky Grist said: “We are delighted to have a sporting celebrity from the rugby world on our event, and with Scott Williams so engaged and fanatical about rallying we are delighted that he can come and do a safety car job for us. All eyes will be on him, and I’m sure that his nerves will jangle a fair bit more on this event than they do on a Six Nations match for Wales!

Neil Cross, Nicky Grist Stages Clerk of the Course, said: “Having reliable Safety Cars running ahead of the field is a vital part of the event planning and having Scott out on the asphalt stages is an important part of that planning. Scott will be in close contact with me in Rally HQ and the MSA Safety Delegate out on the stages advising us on certain aspects of the stage set up.

Scott will also be watching the opening day of the Nicky Grist Stages from the VIP Hospitality marquee, when crews contest the gravel section of the event, which is a round of the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship, 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 and ANWCC Forest Rally Championship. You can join him in the VIP area too, with exclusive car parking, stage-side viewing area, breakfast, lunch, unlimited refreshments and guest speakers. More information on the great VIP rally day out is available from Sarah Williams on 01559 371534.

Regulations and entry forms are available in the Competitors’ section of www.nickygriststages.co.uk

Welsh rugby international Scott Williams helps launch the 2017 Nicky Grist Stages and GoSafe alliance

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

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.