Motorsport UK Pirelli Ravenol Welsh Rally Championship 

Matthew Hirst will be targeting his fourth straight 2022 Motorsport UK Pirelli Ravenol Welsh Rally Championship win when he contests the Nicky Grist Stages on Saturday 9 July in his Pirelli-shod Delta Salvage Ford Fiesta R5+.
Co-driven by Declan Dear, Matthew became the first driver since Callum Black in 2017 to win three Welsh Championship rallies in a row when he won the Plains Rally last time out - and if he wins again he will be the first driver to win four in a row since Luke Francis in 2016. Both Callum and Luke went on to win the Welsh title in those years!
"The Nicky Grist Stages is one of the events which we look forward to each year," says Matthew. 
"The pace at the front of the field just seems to get quicker every year. I'd put this down to the fact that the route doesn't generally alter dramatically year-on-year, typically with just small changes here and there. That allows you to build confidence with the pace notes and generally gives a good feeling to the pre-event preparations. 
"It's also the only time to compare the Pirelli Ravenol Welsh Rally Championship pace against the BRC which is an interesting opportunity, albeit on the proviso that they have had the opportunity to recce the stages beforehand. It's always good to get the excuses out early!
"This will be the fifth time that we have entered the event and upon reflection we have yet to have a proper clean run. In the last three starts, we have had mechanical problems with a broken driveshaft, broken gear-lever and collapsed steering column. 
"Hopefully we can get through this year with no dramas!"
James Giddings finished second last time out in his Group N Fordpad Mitsubishi Evo 9 to shoot up the points table and become a real title contender. Co-driven this time by Lee Taylor, the former Fiesta ST Trophy and Citroën C2 Challenge champion has taken very little time to get used to his new car and will be one of many trying to stop Hirst's winning run. 
Bob Morgan/Ade Williams are also having a fantastic season in their Winner Garage Å koda Fabia R5+. They lead the Ravenol Challenge and arrive at the Nicky Grist Stages as the top-placed Å koda crew.

We've not seen the best of Dylan Davies yet this year. He's had a troubled start to the season, and that will make the 2019 Welsh champion all the more determined to score maximum points as he and co-driver Mark Glennerster contest the event in their Å koda Fabia R5+.
Another former champion Bob Ceen, who won the title in 2001 and 2015, arrives in Builth Wells on top form having scored a fifth-place Welsh Championship points finish last time out on the Plains. He and co-driver Shaun Layland know the classic mid-Wales forests well and will have their sights set on another strong performance in their 'National spec' Ford Fiesta R5.

Bob's brother Richard Ceen (co-driven by Alun Hayward) hopes to have finally sorted out the sensor gremlins which have ruined many a good stage performance this year in his Ford Focus WRC05. 
Meanwhile, Richard's son Benj Ceen will be aiming to return to his fantastic early season form, as the former Renault/Alpine Formula 1 test engineer and co-driver Caron Tomlinson contest the event in their MSL-prepared Ford Fiesta R5.
Perry Gardener/Jack Bowen scored a Welsh podium finish on the Rallynuts Stages and will be challenging for maximum points again in their Ford Fiesta R5+, while Tom Llewellin/Ross Whittock appear in a Brace's Bakery-backed Ford Fiesta R5, having switched from a Mitsubishi Mirage.
Russ Thompson makes his second appearance of the year after recording an excellent fourth-placed points finish on the Rallynuts Stages. Co-driven by Stephen Link, another good result in his Dunnow Plant-backed Mitsubishi Evo 9 could bring the 2019 Welsh Championship runner-up right back into contention for the 2022 title.
Having sorted out a few reliability issues with his Mitsubishi Evo 6, Simon Rogers enjoyed a much better run on the Plains. Co-driven by James How, he'll be hoping that it continues on the Nicky Grist Stages - while Phil Price Rally School owner John Caine returns in his Subaru Impreza and, co-driven by Andrew Sankey, will be aiming for a strong top 10 finish and more Ravenol Welsh Challenge points.
Class 13 leader Paul Walker is enjoying a great season and will be out again with Geraint Thomas in his Green Paw Subaru Impreza, while Wug Utting/Bob Stokoe will also be pushing hard in their Geoff Jones Motorsport-prepared Subaru Impreza N12b.

Last year's Nicky Grist Stages saw the return of Nik Elsmore, who was contesting his first rally for over six years and only his third rally in 12 years. He's done very little since, but it's great to see him and co-driver Craig Drew back in their Mitsubishi Evo IX and preparing to blow the cobwebs away in their characteristic hard-charging style.
Frazer Martin/Dylan Bargate will contest the event in their Mitsubishi Evo 6, Lewers Firth/Shaun Lapper are back in their Firth Construction Subaru Impreza, Rob and Ashley Aslett wheel out their Subaru Impreza, as do Martyn Andrews/Steve Greenhill, Steven Ormond-Smith/Simon Jones and Geoff Cottrill/Nathan Crewe both appear in Mitsubishi Evo 9s, while Dave Tomlin/Keith Ashley will be hoping for a much-needed change of fortune in their Axon Ford Fiesta R5.
Having scored two wins from three starts, Boyd Kershaw/Keegan Rees lead the Welsh 2WD class in their Flying Kiwi Escort Mk2. They really are enjoying a sensational season in the black Ford and will be aiming for a class hat-trick this time out. 


Kevin Metcalfe (who also leads class W12) is just five points behind in his 3-litre BMW E30 and together with Ian Jones is always great to watch. And to illustrate how diverse the 2WD category is, Matthew Jackson arrives third in class in his MJ Rallying Ford Fiesta R2T. Partnered by Sasha Heriot (who is second in the co-drivers' standings), Jackson also leads class W4.
Ashley Davies/Sam Fordham remain Welsh 2WD title contenders. Having won the class on the Rallynuts and finished second on Rally North Wales, another strong run in their Burton Power/G&B Finch/Deranged Trucks Ford Escort RS could put them right back into title contention - and with five scores from seven counting towards the end of season points total, they hope to be able to drop the low score they received after retiring on the Plains.

Also ready to score big in the 2WD category are Philip Jones/Ryan Griffiths (Ford Escort), Andrew Fox/Jaime-Lee Fox (Xwatch Safety Solutions BMW 325), Michael Sawyer/Gareth Price (2350cc Datsun 1600) Geoffrey Phelps/Colin Jenkins (Hartpury Farms Escort Mk2), Matthew Honeyborne/James Curtis (BMW 328 Coupe), Tim Jones/Liam Whiteley (Ford Escort Mk2), Clive Price/John Fellowes (BMW Compact), Alun Horn/Ian Beamond (Ford Escort Mk2), Colin Griffiths/Lucy Wilding (BMW Compact), Richard Warne/Chris Deal (Escort Mk2), David Jones/Glyn Price (BMW E30) and Tim Phelps/Elwyn Manuel who return in their Britpart Ford Escort Mk2.
The battle for the supported Welsh Junior title is hotting up nicely, with seven under 25-year old drivers aiming for the coveted trophy. Two wins and a second sees Liam Griffiths in the lead and the Presteigne youngsters will be hoping to continue that good run when he and co-driver Daniel James take to the mid-Wales forests in their Discover Parks Ford Fiesta ST.
Liam's brother Callum, co-driven by William Lewis, will be a tough competitor in his Presteigne Tyre Services Ford Fiesta ST, as will the rapid James Lepley/Arwel Jenkins in their Escort Mk2.
Robert Wilson won the Junior category on the Rallynuts, which was his first event in his Ravenol Mitsubishi Evo 7 - and he and co-driver Richard Crozier will be aiming for maximum points this time again.

Rudi Lancaster has the opportunity to take the Historic class W8 lead. Co-driven by Guy Weaver, he's already scored three very good results in his Woolacombe Holiday Parks Escort RS1800 Mk2 and a first or second would give him the outright class lead.

However, victory could also give the defending class W8 champions Paul Street/Ian Jones the lead as they aim for top points in their PJS Marine Escort RS1800 Mk2.


Nick Elliott has been super-fast this year, although an engine issue on the Plains Rally has dropped him to fourth in the table. But with it fixed, he and co-driver Dave Price should be right back challenging for class victory in their Fiat Abarth 131.

Jonathan Brace has been the fastest Escort Mk1 driver all season and despite a power disadvantage is fifth in class W8. Reunited with co-driver Paul Spooner, who was away on holiday when the Plains took place, Jonathan will be out to impress in his Brace's Bakery RS1600. 
Robert Gough scored his best result of the season last time out and together with Sam Collis will be aiming to keep up that momentum going in their Ford Escort RS1800 Mk2.
Andrew Stokes/Jonny Tad Evans will be aiming for their fourth straight points-finish in their Ford Escort Mk1, as they start the event seventh in class, one point ahead of Roger Chilman/Patrick Walsh (Wales Motorsport-prepared Securcom Escort Mk2) and Michael McDaid/Declan Casey (McDaid Pharmacy Escort RS1800 Mk2). 
Also aiming for class W8 points are Ben Friend/Cliffy Simmons (Allglass Escort Mk2), Will Onions/Dave Williams (Capital Motorsport Ford Escort Mk2), Pete Littler/Andy Marchbank (RED Preparation & Fabrication/Select Security Ford Escort RS1800 Mk2), Philip Clarke/Richard Bonner (Escort Mk2), Ron Morgan/Marc Clatworthy (Wales Motorsport-prepared Restruct Escort Mk2) and Owen McMackin/Sean Ferris in their BJT Hire Centre Escort Mk2.

Neal James/Kevin Jones have a healthy lead in the Historic W7 class after three second-place finishes in their Cwm Engineering Ford Escort Mk2. They'll continue to be pushed hard by second-placed David Lloyd Roberts/Gerallt Davies, who have won twice in their Escort Mk2, and Ben Smith/Stephen Smith who took victory on the opening round in their Escort Mk2. Peter Hinton/Lewis Sim (Escort Mk2) and Gareth Lewis/Ryland James (Escort RS2000 Mk1) are also out.

Julian Birley/Emyr Hall lead the Historic W6 class after taking two wins from two starts in their Talbot Sunbeam Ti 1600. Welsh Junior driver Rory McCann, co-driven by his father Paul, is second in class in his Metalways Hillman Avenger.
Chris Squires/Shaun Hughes, who celebrated contesting their first gravel rally with class W6 victory on the Rallynuts, are back in their Trevor Morris Engines Ford Escort Mk2, while Mark Tugwell/Steve Pugh (Lotus Twin Cam engines Metalways Ford Escort Mk1) and Malcolm Bayliss/Siobhan Pugh (16BAO Rally Team Ford Escort Mk1) will be aiming for top points as well.
In addition to valuable points, the top three finishes in each historic class will automatically be put forward for the end-of-season David Stokes Historic Challenge award for drivers and the Guy Weaver award for co-drivers.
James Dunkley has a great opportunity to take the class W2 lead when he and co-driver Dan Sayce contest the event in their Opel Corsa.
Gethin Price will be aiming to make a dent in Hefin Lloyd-Davies's class W3 lead as he and co-driver Matthew Baddeley contest the event in their Keith Price Haulage Nissan Micra. They'll be battling for maximum class points with Adrian and Matthew Walk (PartBOX Ford Ka) and brothers Freddy and Toby Brick (Opel Corsa).
Matthew Jackson may have a good lead in class W4, but he'll have to be on his best again as Jonathan Jones/Jez Rogers (EDSL Sport-run Ingospec Ford Fiesta), Tony Simpson/Ian Bevan (Seacon UK/Kielder Tools Ford Fiesta R2T) and Yaniv Bar/Osian Owen (Ptravel Club Ford Fiesta R2) challenge for maximum points.

Brynli Thomas leads the Road Rally class and together with co-driver Sion Rowlands will be aiming to extend his lead in his Peugeot 306 Rallye. Aiming to stop them will be the earlier leaders of the W5 class, Graham Thatcher/Tim Samuel in their Pembridge Vehicle Management Peugeot 206 GTi.

Martin Walters/Marie Fletcher aim to strengthen their healthy class W10 lead in their high-revving yellow Honda Civic. Dan Jones led the class after the opening round and will want to return to the top step on the class W10 podium when he and Cyril Jones tackle the event in their Jones Brothers/Bradley Motorsport Vauxhall Nova. Aiming for their first finish of the season will Alan Desbois/Peter Littlefield (Peugeot 306 RWD) and Michael Jenkins/Scott Dance (Peugeot 205).
The Welsh Championship's live streaming service will be even bigger and better on the Nicky Grist Stages, with even more action and interviews. Howard Davies will commentate on the live stage action and will also roam with a camera and microphone around midday service, interviewing Welsh Championship drivers and co-drivers. Everything will be broadcast live on:
Organised by Quinton Motor Club, the 2022 Nicky Grist Stages will start from Strand Street in the centre of Builth Wells at 08.31. After a loop of stages through Llyn Login, Monument, Halfway and Crychan forests, cars will return for a midday service on the Builth Wells RFC pitch before a repeat run over the stages. After all eight stages and 45 stage miles have been completed, the podium ceremony will take place in Groe Park at 15.30, with the River Wye and the landmark 18th Century bridge in the background.

Further details on the 2022 Motorsport UK Pirelli Ravenol Welsh Rally Championship, together with registration information, can be found online at:

For more information please contact: 
Dave Evison
Secretary, Motorsport UK Pirelli Ravenol Welsh Rally Championship 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Paul Evans
Press Officer, Motorsport UK Pirelli Ravenol Welsh Rally Championship 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Picture captions - top left to bottom right
Matthew Hirst/Declan Dear (Ford Fiesta R5+)
Bob Ceen/Shaun Layland (Ford Fiesta R5)
Bob Morgan/Ade Williams (Å koda Fabia R5+)
Paul Walker/Geraint Thomas (Subaru Impreza)
Nick Elliott/Peredur Davies (Fiat Abarth 131)
Rudi Lancester/Guy Weaver (Ford Escort Mk2)
Peter Hinton/Lewis Sim (Escort Mk2) 
Ashley Davies/Sam Fordham (Ford Escort Mk2)
Ron Morgan/Marc Clatworthy (Ford Escort Mk2) 
Matthew Jackson/Sasha Heriot (Ford Fiesta R2T) 
Boyd Kershaw/Keegan Rees (Ford Escort)
Freddy Brick/Toby Brick (Opel Corsa) 
Paul Street/Ian Jones (Ford Escort Mk2) 
Neal James/Kevin Jones (Ford Escort Mk2) 
Rob Wilson/Richard Crozier (Mitsubishi Evo 7) 
Brynli Thomas/Steve Griffiths (Peugeot 306 Rallye) 

Pictures courtesy of Paul Mitchell. Please credit 'Paul Mitchell Photography' if used.