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Nicky Grist Stage 2022 Report

Nicky Grist Stages 2022

On a day when it would have been preferable to be sitting at home in the garden tweaking the barbeque and sipping a cold beer a number of crews registered for the HRCR Stage Masters Championship donned fireproof underwear and overalls and strapped themselves into very hot motor cars which invariably took in copious amounts of dust.

The rally was the Nicky Grist Stages and it all started in Builth Wells with Scrutineering and documentation on the Groe field on the banks of the river Wye and North Road Garage on the Friday with the rally scheduled to start the following day. A compact loop of four special stages, each run twice, was planned with Llyn Login first, a short technical stage with blind brows and big cambers. Monument followed, a more traditional forest stage followed by Halfway and Crychan which was the longest at nine and a half miles.

Unfortunately James Lepley and Arwel Jenkins non started due to the driver testing positive for COVID but for the remaining contenders it was wide open and over the course of the day many of the crews were locked in battle, swapping times all day. One crew stood out however, Jonathan Brace and Paul Spooner were consistently faster than everyone else in their immaculate Dave Jenkins prepared Brace’s Bread Mk1 Escort RS1600 except on stage two when Mike Simpson and Dale Gibbons stole their thunder in a car that Mike has just bought from Jonathan! Simpson and Gibbons were out for the first time in the ex-Brace Mk2 RS1800 and wanted a day of familiarisation, a leaking gearbox caused consternation from the start but they persevered and eventually finished in 48th position but taking maximum championship class points, as did Brace once again.

Behind them there was a battle on for top pinto with David Lloyd Roberts and Gerallt Davies coming out on top when day long leaders Neal James with Kevin Jones went off the road on stage seven and lost at least 20 seconds leaving them less than 2 seconds in arrears when all the times were calculated.

Despite being in a different championship class Andrew Stokes and Johnny ‘Tad’ Evans had been hoping to threaten Brace in their usual Escort RS1600 but it was not to be and despite some encouraging times the consistency was not there. Despite that they were visibly enjoying themselves and scored good points.

A little further down the field Ron Morgan and Marc Clatworthy plugged away in their very nice Mk2 Escort, the brows on Llyn Login were a little troubling and they found them difficult to judge. Despite that they scored maximum championship points. Also struggling a little on Llyn Login the first time was Tony Jardine who took a liking to one of the chicane bales and he ‘kissed’ it with the driver’s door leaving a large dent. Luckily his service crew rectified that to make it look perfect again for the second half of the day! Tony also had the large responsibility of  looking after Motorsport UK Rallies Executive Iain Tullie who sat in with him for the day, Iain looking particularly well cooked after a day in a very hot cabin in racing overalls. The pair also battled with brake issues but persevered and were awarded 5 litres of fine Penrite Oil at the finish.

 

Photo credits: Martin Broughton, Colin Hughes and Martin Leonard