GRIST ORGANISERS BEAT THE CONDITIONS
Live military exercises and poor weather created drama
Nicky Grist believes the rally that carries his name has something to build on after its first running in a two-day, gravel and asphalt format.
An event taking in gravel and asphalt stages around Epynt hasn’t happened since the 1980s, with the Quinton Motor Club looking to run an event similar to the legendary Welsh International.
The organisers overcame a number of issues which hit the event. The Saturday stages ran with minimal issues, but crews reported rutted roads and poor conditions in the afternoon after bad weather.
On Sunday the start was delayed by over an hour as the military on the ranges impeded the stage set-ups.
Grist said: “I think the concept is good. It’s been a very tough event for the organisers, there’s been a lot of army manoeuvres out on the ranges which caused problems overnight and with the stage set-up this morning. I think we’ve learned a lot. Running a two-day event is not something the club has done before and I think there’s a lot of positives to come out of it. I think we’ve got something to build on.”
The concept of running mixed surface was met with almost universal praise from teams and drivers. Podium finisher Desi Henry believed the event was a difficult challenge, something the drivers always ask for.
“It’s a tough rally,” said Henry. “A very good rally, very mentally draining, the fact that the first day was gravel and the second day was Tarmac. I definitely enjoyed it, Epynt will take a bit of getting used to it’s not like your average Tarmac stages. But I can’t complain, it’s been good.”
One issue that did cause debate was the setting up of chicanes on Epynt.
With bogey times an issue in the BRC this year the organisers set up 16 chicanes in order to slow down the BRC 1 crews in order to prevent notional times. But the crews reported chicanes to be too tight for their cars. Grist said the organisers were aware of the issues and worked hard to find a compromise.
“I can’t say it’s been bad,” he said. “The chicanes have been a conscientious issue we knew that before the start. The information we had after the Pirelli, we thought bogey times were going to be an issue and we worked really hard on that. I worked hard to put it together.”
BRC manager Iain Campbell added: “The format of gravel and asphalt was well received by our competitors at the Nicky Grist Stages last weekend.
“Neil and his team had a challenging couple of days but coped with them well. As with anything new, there are lots that can be learned and details amended for the future but it was a challenge the teams took on and enjoyed.”
The event featured a new finish with Builth Wells’ most famous landmark, a bridge, in the background.