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July 2024

Nicky Grist Stages Report

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Clerk of the Course Neil Cross and his Team again put on their customary polished event, seen by many as the highlight of the Challenge Calendar. The town of Builth Wells, aware of the economic boost to the town, fully embraced the Rally with the mayor flagging competitors away at the start.

A Third in Class for Oxfordshire’s Michael Jenkins, co-driven by Jordan Joines in their Fiesta, sees him top the current leaderboard from Bowler Defender driver Mark Thomas. Will Graham, son of reigning Champion Ernie Graham took a Class Victory, clinching him a current third place.

Michael Jenkins and Jordan Joines

Mark Thomas

Will Graham

A scorching run from Geoff Phelps and Colin Jenkins (pictured right) in the Escort Mk. 2 sees Jenkins extend his lead over Junior Co-driver Lucie Gutteridge with Robbie Sandford, again in the Junior Category, holding third.

Brushing off the cobwebs on their first rally of the year were Ron Morgan (pictured left) in the Restruct Escort Mk. 2 and long time Challenge supporters Martyn  Andrews and Steve Greenhill. The latter were hampered by a mis-fire and lack of uphill power but we’re pleased to get to the finish with a reasonable result.

A word must go to the Recovery Team, Brecon Motor Club Members and spectators who took care of Scott Walton and Daniel James  (pictured left) following their dramatic estimated 200 foot plunge down a hillside, the car rolling end over end and barrel rolling around 20 times. The fact that they walked away from the incident is testament to how well Scott built the car  and the integrity of the roll cage strengthen by Mid Glam Motorsport. Early signs suggest that a piece of the rear wheel found on the stage was the cause of the accident.

All photos courtesy of Mike Frayne

Stunning star-studded rally entry heads to Builth Wells for the 2024 Nicky Grist Stages

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A star-studded entry, made up of competitors from six major UK championships and several of the top Probite British Rally Championship drivers who are using the classic mid-Wales stages as a gravel test, will gather in Builth Wells this weekend for the Nicky Grist Stages (Saturday 13 July).

The quality of the Quinton Motor Club-organised event’s entry has been enhanced by the Castrol MEM Rally Team, with the 2019 FIA European rally champion Chris Ingram (co-driven by Alex Kihurani) making his competition debut in a Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 alongside stablemates Meirion Evans/Jonathan Jackson. Four-time British rally champion Keith Cronin (co-driven by Shane Buckley) also contests the event in his Ford Fiesta Rally2, as do Kyle White/Anthony Nestor (Hyundai i20 R5) and Alan Carmichael/Dale Bowen (Hyundai i20 N Rally2).

Seeded at number one are last year’s Nicky Grist Stages winners Elliot Payne/Tom Woodburn. They arrive leading the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Gold Star Rally Championship and will be aiming to extend their points advantage in their Amigos Ford Fiesta Rally2.

They’ll face stiff opposition from the likes of Matthew Hirst. Co-driven by Decland Dear, the Doncaster ace also leads the Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship (and is on course for a record-breaking fourth title) and is always a force to be reckoned with in his Delta Salvage/Witham Motorsport Fiesta R5.

Also aiming for top BTRDA points are Liam Clark/Emily Easton Page (Ford Fiesta Rally2), Vivian Hamill/Lorcan Moore (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5), Scott Renshaw/Bonnie Papper (Citroën DS3 R5) and Patrick Naylor/Ian Lawrence (Mitsubishi Evo 9).

Dan O’Brien/Mark Glennerster will be targeting top Pirelli Welsh points in only their second event in a Fiesta Rally2 and will be up against the likes of Carmarthen’s James Giddings (co-driven by Aled Davies in a Mitsubishi Evo 9), Russ Thompson/Stephen Link (Mitsubishi Evo 9), Daniel Moss/Samuel Davies (Mitsubishi Evo 10), Steve Hollis/Tim Currie (Volkswagen Golf V R32), the 2023 Welsh Challenge champions Martyn Andrews/Steve Greenhill (Subaru Impreza) and Quinton MC members Paul Walker/Geraint Thomas (Subaru Impreza) and Geoff Cottrill/Nathan Crewe (Mitsubishi Evo 9).

Steve ‘Korky’ Ward (co-driven by Phil Sandham in his Escort RS1800) lead the Protyre BTRDA Silver Star Championship and resumes his close title battle with Michael Jenkins (co-driven by Jordan Joines in his Fiesta R2) and Nick Dobson (co-driven by Steve Pugh in an Escort Mk2).

The event is also a round of the HRCR Rally Master Challenge (the largest historic rally car registration of its kind), the TCS Plant Rally Challenge (which raises funds for the Wales Air Ambulance), the ANWCC Rally Championship (which has over 120 member clubs) and the Defender Rally Series UK Championship – with series leader Mark Thomas and Boyzone singer Shane Lynch driving two of the nine Bowler Defender 90s.

Former Pirelli Welsh R2 champion Matthew Jackson will drive the course opening zero car. He’ll be co-driven in the Bowler Motorsport supplied Defender 90 by Paul Morris, whose long list of achievements includes a second overall finish on the 2008 Nicky Grist Stages (co-driving for Damian Cole in a Hyundai Accent WRC3) and more recently a BTRDA Silver Star section win on the 2023 Nicky Grist Stages with Robert Gough (Escort Mk2).

Thanks to the magnificent support of Powys County Council, Builth Wells Town Council, Builth Wells Rugby Football Club and the businesses and residents of Builth Wells, the 2024 Nicky Grist Stages will once again be based in the very heart of the picturesque market town.

The start of the event will be held in Strand Street, outside the wonderful Strand Hall which will play host to rally headquarters. The first car will leave the start at 09:00 and be flagged away by Cllr. Gwyn Davies, Builth Wells Mayor.

The smaller capacity 1400cc and H1/2 Historic class cars will run first on the road and in reverse order (as normal), followed by the BRC crews and then a three-minute gap before the top-seeded BTRDA and Welsh Rally Championship crews (running in seeded order).

A 50-minute mid-day service halt will be located in Groe Park, home to Builth Wells RFC (with the first car arriving at 11:45), and the finish ceremonies will be on the banks of the River Wye (with Builth Wells’ 18th Century bridge and surrounding rolling hills providing one of the most scenic podium finish backdrops in British rallying) from 15:20 onwards.

The rally action will take place on mostly gravel roads in and around the famous Epynt military range and feature two loops of four classic mid-Wales forest stages totalling 44.48 stage miles. Llyn Login will host the opening morning and afternoon stages, followed by Monument (run in the reverse direction to last year), Halfway (also run in the reverse direction and with a new section towards the end) and a new configuration through Bowlsey (formerly called Crychan and renamed in honour of the late Pete Bowles, a long time Quinton MC committee member, previous Nicky Grist Stages event winner and Clerk of the Course).

To limit the environmental impact and to safeguard Sites of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI), spectator areas have been carefully agreed with the landowners, Natural Resources Wales and Defence Infrastructure Organisation Wales. These are easily accessible, have dedicated off-road parking and other facilities and give some of the best viewing locations at the event. Spectator information is available at nickygriststages.co.uk.

The Nicky Grist Stages has teamed up with Carbon Positive Motorsport for a third consecutive year and incorporates a Welsh carbon project for the first time as part of the event’s environmental roadmap. The event will feature the leading BTRDA and multiple Welsh Rally championship winning crew of Matthew Hirst and Declan Dear, who join Carbon Positive Motorsport’s group of ambassadors for the first time as event enviro ambassadors. The pair will be supporting the event to highlight the inclusion of a new carbon project in Abergavenny. This project will be used for the first time to help mitigate the event’s unavoidable carbon emissions and supports the planting of over 1,500 sequioa and 6,000 native broadleaf trees. It repurposes a former monocultural commercial tree planting site and will bring significant improvements to biodiversity on the site.

The event is also proud to continue its association with GoSafe – the Wales Road Casualty Reduction Partnership and its Operation SNAP programme and help raise awareness of the Fatal Five road safety initiative by the Mid & West Wales Fire and Rescue Service. Mobile units will be operating in the area on Saturday 13 July.

Action from the Nicky Grist Stages will be streamed live and free-to-view on the Protyre BTRDA Rally Series and Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship social media platforms and the Special Stage TV Facebook and YouTube pages during the event.

The 2024 Nicky Grist Stages is also part of Motorsport UK’s National Motorsport Week and more information can be found at motorsportweek.org.

“The quality of the entry is going to make this year’s Nicky Grist Stages one of the very best, with a host of top drivers using the event to test – including Chris Ingram making his Toyota Yaris debut – and all the leading competitors from six major championships,” says Nicky Grist.

“Add that to some of the best stages mid-Wales has to offer and Builth Wells geared up to welcome us into town, and it’s all set to be a fantastic day’s rallying.”

2024 Nicky Grist Stages – top 10 Seeded Entries
1. Elliot Payne/Patrick Walsh (Ford Fiesta Rally2)
2. Chris Ingram/Alex Kihurani (Toyota GR Yaris Rally2)
3. Keith Cronin/Shane Buckley (Ford Fiesta Rally2)
4. Meirion Evans/Jonathan Jackson (Toyota GR Yaris Rally2)
5. Kyle White/Anthony Nestor (Hyundai i20 R5)
6. Alan Carmichael/Dale Bowen (Hyundai i20 N Rally2)
7. Matthew Hirst/Declan Dear (Ford Fiesta R5)
8. Niall McGonigle/Caolan McKenna (Ford Fiesta R5)
9. Liam Clark/Emily Easton Page (Ford Fiesta Rally2)
10. Vivian Hamill/Lorcan Moore (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5)

The full Seeded Entry List can be found here.

Media enquiries please contact: 
Paul Evans 07710 743167 / media@nickygriststages.co.uk

Picture captions (from top to bottom right)

Chris Ingram and Meirion Evans will drive a pair of Toyota GR Yaris Rally2s
Two Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 cars will compete for the first time in the UK
Matthew Hirst/Declan Dear (Ford Fiesta R5) on last year’s Nicky Grist Stages
Elliot Payne/Patrick Walsh (Ford Fiesta Rally2) on last year’s Nicky Grist Stages
Quinton Motor Club members Paul Walker/Geraint Thomas (Subaru Impreza)