Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship 

@Builth Wells

  • Callum Black flies to Championship honours on the Nicky Grist Stages



    Callum Black and co-driver Jack Morton took victory on the opening round of the 2021 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship, the Nicky Grist Stages, winning the Interclub Rally section of the event and finishing an incredible seventh overall in their Ford Fiesta R5.


    In his first rally outing for almost two years, and his first in an R5 car for three and a half years, Callum, the 2017 Pirelli Welsh National Rally champion, drove brilliantly to score maximum points on the 44 stage mile event, held on the classic mid-Wales forest stages of Llyn Login, Monument, Halfway and Crychan.


    Despite a handling problem in the morning, caused by a broken anti-roll bar, and a spin on SS2, the 586 Sports team driver finished 21 seconds ahead of Ian Bainbridge/Will Atkins, who were delighted with the set-up changes they'd made to their Å koda Fabia R5 during lockdown. Ian was a lot faster in the afternoon, when all four stages were repeated - a full 20 seconds faster through Crychan the second time in fact.


    Third place went to George Lepley/Tom Woodburn in their AMS-tuned Mitsubishi Evo X. After a very good start, they found the afternoon loop was much more challenging, but did well to stay in touch with the R5 cars. They were also top Welsh Junior crew home - Lepley staking first claim to the top end-of-season prize of a test in a PCRS Rallysport-prepared Hyundai i20 R5, courtesy of OnThePaceNote.


    It's the same Junior prize that Tom Llewellin won in 2019, and the former Welsh Junior champion appeared this time in a Mitsubishi Mirage. Together with co-driver Ross Whittock, he made a fantastic four-wheel drive competition debut, and never put a foot wrong as he got valuable miles under his belt on his way to fourth.


    Scotland's Garry Pearson/Niall Burns picked up points for fifth in their Mitsubishi Evo IX. Richard Hill and Elgan Davies were paired together for the first time in their Mitsubishi Evo IX, and the new driver/co-driver partnership worked so well that they caught the car ahead of them on SS4. Their speed continued in the afternoon, coming home sixth, while Gareth Mimnagh/Barry McCarney had a good run to an untroubled seventh place in their Mitsubishi Evo VI - and topped the RAVENOL UK Welsh Challenge category.


    2019 Pirelli Welsh National Rally champions Matthew Hirst/Declan Dear had a nightmare of an opening loop, with an engine misfire on SS1 and 2 and a broken driveshaft on SS3 and 4 in their Mitsubishi Evo IX. Despite this, they showed their class with a brilliant recovery in the afternoon, which rewarded them with 11th at the finish.


    Also struggling was the 2019 championship runner-up Russ Thompson, who snapped a pair of driveshafts on his Mitsubishi Evo IX upon landing after a jump on SS2. Having missed two stages, he completed the afternoon's loop of stages - both for testing and to get seat time with new co-driver Peredur Davies.


    Andy Davies/Ian Beamond were having a good run before a TCA broke on their Subaru Impreza.


    Bob Morgan's first rally for three years was hampered a little with his super-smart and self-prepared Å koda Fabia struggling to launch off the start lines. Co-driven by Adrian Williams, the Winner Garage boss was to retire in the afternoon with brake problems.


    Wug Utting was sporting a new hip, having had a replacement operation only a month ago. He and co-driver Bob Stokoe were on fine form in their Subaru Impreza STi N12, completing the event without drama. It was also a good debut for Martyn and Dawn England, who, after many years in their Ford Fiesta R5+, had purchased a Mitsubishi Evo X just four days before the event. And they got to the finish without an issue.


    It was also great to see Nik Elsmore return to the sport, having only contested three rallies in the last 12 years! On his first event since the 2015 Wyedean Stages Rally, he and co-driver Craig Drew were quickly back up to speed in a Mitsubishi Evo IX, getting used to a sequential gearbox and route notes after a long time away. Elsmore joked that, "it's a good opportunity to blow plenty of cobwebs away, although the event doesn't have much faith in us, seeding us at ninety-one." And he was correct, for he was a second per mile quicker through the stages in the afternoon and came home ninth registered Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship contender.

    David Crossen won the Restruct-sponsored Two-Wheel Drive category, the Irishman finishing eighth with Aileen Kelly on the notes in an Escort Mk2.


    Paul Barrett/Gordon Noble were almost a minute behind in their Escort Mk2 - but were nonetheless overjoyed to win the hotly contested Historic class.


    Frank Kelly, co-driven by his daughter Lauren, had a tyre come off the rim on SS2 - but their afternoon was a lot better as they came home third 2WD in their famous Baby Blue Escort Mk2. Owen McMackin/Lee Taylor and Ashley Davies/Sam Fordham finished fourth and fifth in the 2WD section in their Escort Mk2s.


    Having very kindly donated 500 packets of fabulously moreish Brace's Welsh Cakes for all the volunteer marshals, Jonathan Brace had a good start to the event - despite picking up a puncture in SS2. Sadly for him and co-driver Paul Spooner, his immaculate Escort Mk2's engine cut out a mile into the final stage and refused to restart.


    Ben Friend/Cliff Simmons also had high hopes of a good result, but their run ended after their Escort Mk2 broke its differential on landing after a crossroads junction.


    Paul Street/Ian Jones finished second in the Historic section in their RS1800 Mk2. 2000 Pirelli Welsh National Rally champions Pete Littler/Andy Marchbank and Michael Mcdaid/Daniel Petrie came home third and fourth in a pair of Escort Mk2s, while Tom Coughtrie/Ian Fraser were fifth Historic home in their Mitsubishi Galant VR4.


    Gary Smith/Clive Jones won the private RS1600 Mk1 battle, beating Andrew Stokes/Jonny 'Tad' Evans and David Kirby/Martin Corbett. They might have been seeded in the 200s, but you'd be hard pressed to find a more competitive group of drivers - and that battle is set to rage all season.


    Also enjoying themselves were Julian Birley/Steve White. They won the RallySport championship 40 years ago in a Talbot Sunbeam Ti, and have returned this year in a 1600cc Sunbeam - having rebuilt the engine, gearbox and rear axle during lockdown. Their preparation efforts paid off, as they recorded a trouble-free W6 class win.


    Ioan Lloyd/Sion Williams enjoyed a fantastic run in their Peugeot 208 R2, a spin on SS2 not getting in the way of a well-earned W4 class victory. Jonathan Jones/Alan Walker were second in their Fiesta R2, while Charlie Todd/Glyn Thomas completed the top three Welsh Juniors in their Fiesta R2T. Jonathan Lee Jones/Lewis Griffiths gently rolled their Fiesta R2T in Halfway, but sadly a holed radiator meant that they could go no further.


    James Dunkley/Dan Sayce won the W2 class in their Vauxhall Corsa. Steve Black/Paul Morris (Suzuki Swift S1400) beat David and Toby Brick (Vauxhall Nova) to the W3 class trophy.


    Robi Wood/Osian Davies (Escort Mk2) won the new Road Rally (W5) class, with Ricky Crone/Daniel James (Escort) finishing second and Graham Thatcher/Tim Samuels (Peugeot 206) completing the top three.


    David Edwards/Paul Dolby (Escort Mk2) beat Neal James/Kevin Jones (Escort) to the W7 award, while Dan and Cyril Jones (Vauxhall Nova) won W10. On their first forestry rally and their first event outside Ireland, Jason Black/Karl Egan won the W11 class in their rear-wheel drive Toyota Starlet.


    "It's been three and a half years since I last drove an R5 car and almost two years since I've done a rally, so it's been a very enjoyable event and I'm delighted with the result," said Callum Black.


    "It was good to just be back in a rally car - and I was surprised to be right up there and leading the very strong Welsh National Rally Championship section after stage one. Between stage one and two, I noticed that the anti-roll bar had snapped, so I had to disconnect it on the road section. The stability was compromised and the car was trying to get away from me on the faster sections after that, so stages two, three and four were a bit of a challenge.


    "The team fixed the car at midday service and after giving it a good go on the first two stages in the afternoon, we decided to bring the car home safely and get through the last two stages without any heroics and take home maximum championship points. I'm very happy with the result and I'm already looking forward to the next event."


    While the Nicky Grist Stages was a non-spectator event, fans could watch live streaming with Howard Davies and Eifion Jones interviewing crews from strategic points along the route. Sideways Media was there to film the action, and it is producing a 30 minute programme dedicated to the Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship, which will be uploaded onto social media channels as early as possible.


    After a 518-day enforced break caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, it truly was a fantastic opening round to the 2021 Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship.


    The series continues on Saturday 4 September with the Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages.


    Further details on the 2021 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship, together with registration information, can be found online at:

    Picture captions
    Top: Callum Black/Jack Morton (Ford Fiesta R5) - 1st overall, Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship, 2021 Nicky Grist Stages.
    Bottom: Ian Bainbridge/Will Atkins (Å koda Fabia R5) - 2nd overall, Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship, 2021 Nicky Grist Stages.
    Top Middle: George Lepley/Tom Woodburn (Mitsubishi Evo X) - 3rd overall and 1st Junior, Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship, 2021 Nicky Grist Stages.
    Middle : David Crossen/Aileen Kelly (Ford Escort Mk2) - 1st Two-Wheel Drive, Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship, 2021 Nicky Grist Stages

    Please credit 'Chris Huish, RallySport Media' if reproduced.



  • Hirst aims to extend Championship lead on the Nicky Grist Stages

    Matthew Hirst takes a healthy 22-point Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship lead into the Nicky Grist Stages (Saturday 8 July) - and the defending champion will be favourite to score his fourth win of the 2023 season in his Pirelli-shod Delta Salvage/Witham Group Ford Fiesta R5.
    The Doncaster driver returns to Builth Wells reunited with regular co-driver Declan Dear, who was away on honeymoon for the previous round. They are looking forward to repeating their Nicky Grist Stages Interclub victory of last year, after they won the event for the first time in 2022.
    "The Nicky Grist Stages is probably the event that I most look forward to in the entire year," says Hirst. 
    "The mid-Wales stages are great - nice and smooth, flat-out and it's normally scorching hot and it's a great challenge. I love the Llyn Login, Crychan, Halfway and Monument stages and the organisers always do something to spice the route up a little bit."

    Simon Rogers is enjoying a magnificent season in his MacWhirter Motorsport-prepared Mitsubishi and lies second in the overall Pirelli Welsh drivers' standings and leads class W13. He has been partnered by three different co-drivers in three rounds, but is back with regular navigator James How this time.
    There has been little to separate Rogers and Martyn Andrews this year, with just seconds between them at the end of all three rallies. The Opie Oils Subaru Impreza STi N12 driver is third in the overall standings, just five points behind the Evo 6 pilot, and leads the Welsh Challenge category, while his navigator Steve Greenhill leads the overall co-drivers' and Welsh Challenge standings.

    Bob Morgan/Ade Williams finished third on the recent Sweet Lamb Rally Time Trail, which was only their second outing of the year in their Winner Garage Å koda Fabia R5 and a good test ahead of the Nicky Grist Stages.
    Peter Baylis is an impressive fifth overall and, together with co-driver Paul Godden, will be looking for his fourth high points score in his Artificial Lawn Company Mitsubishi Evo 9. The same is true of Daniel Moss, who is just four points behind after a consistently high scoring year so far. He and co-driver Samuel Davies are still very much in with a shout of the title and will be aiming for a good haul of points in their pink Hurst Haylage Mitsubishi Evo 10, pictured below.

    Rob Wilson just missed out on a Pirelli Welsh podium on last year's Nicky Grist Stages - which set him on course to eventually become the 2022 Welsh Junior, Welsh Challenge and class W13 champion, as well as finishing runner-up in the overall drivers' standings. The young Herefordshire driver and Richard Crozier will be aiming for the top spot this time in their Ravenol Mitsubishi Evo 7. 


    Colin Minton/Bonnie Papper have had clutch and brake problems this year but given a clear run they'll be challenging for victory in their Ignition Motorsport Ford Fiesta R5. Steve Black/Jack Morton should also go well in their 586 Sports-prepared Pirelli-shod Pallas Connections Ford Fiesta Rally2, as the car is swapped to gravel spec having just won the Argyll Rally. 



    Russ Thompson doesn't do as many rounds as he used to, but the 2019 Pirelli Welsh Championship runner-up is still very quick and, together with Stephen Link, will be aiming for a podium in his Dunnow Plant Mitsubishi Evo 9 - as will Paul Walker/Geraint Thomas (Green Paw Subaru Impreza STI N11), Richard Ceen/Dylan Thomas (MSL Motorsport Fiesta R5) and Steve Hollis/Tim Currie (Volkswagen Golf V R32).


    Other 4WD crews enjoying a good season and aiming to increase their Pirelli Welsh points tally include David Tomlin/Keith Ashley (Axon Ford Fiesta R5), Wug and Max Utting (Subaru Impreza N12b), Colin Griffiths/Sion Rowlands (ex-Mikko Hirvonen/Alister McRae Subaru Impreza STI), Rob and Ashley Aslett (Rigfone Electric Contractors Subaru Impreza), Tom McKeown/Neil Thomas (Subaru Impreza), Nik Elsmore/Rob Fagg (CDS Taxis & Private Hire Mitsubishi Evo 9), Charlie Campbell/Jon Hawkins (Subaru Impreza) and Geoff Cottrill/Nathan Crewe (Mitsubishi Evo 9).
    Robert Gough has been on inspired form this year, winning the Restruct Welsh Historic class W9 on the first two rounds before an engine problem interrupted his great run last time out. He may have lost the class lead to Lyn Davies/Aled Richards (Wales Motorsport-prepared Escort Mk2), but Gough (who is co-driven by Paul Morris) will be aiming to return to his winning ways - and try to maintain his wonderful fourth place in the overall drivers' standings - in his flying Escort RS1800 Mk2.
    Andrew Stokes/Jonny Tad Evans lead the Historic class W8 in their Ford Escort RS1600 and will be up against the likes of Jeremy Wells (co-driven this time by Steve Suckling) and Jonathan Brace/Paul Spooner in similar Mk1s. Brace led the class after two rounds but rolled out of the Plains Rally. Luckily his gorgeous RS1600 didn't sustain much damage - and he's back supplying marshals, as he usually does, with his delicious Brace's Bakery Welsh Cakes!

    Julian Birley/Emyr Hall will be aiming to take the class W5 lead in their Talbot Sunbeam, Gareth Lewis/Ryland James are back in their immaculate red Ford Escort RS2000 Mk1 and will be battling for class W8 points with Gary Smith/Emma Clarke (Escort Mk1), and Ron Morgan (co-driven by Sion Jones) makes a very welcome return to the series in his Restruct Escort Mk2.

    Iwan Roberts Jnr/Daniel Jones snatched the Hockly Motorsport-supported Welsh 2WD class lead last time out in their Roberts of Ffestiniog Ford Escort G3, after Boyd Kershaw/Keegan Rees (who had led after two wins) retired their Flying Kiwi Ford Escort Mk2 with a broken propshaft on the Plains, slipping to third in the points table.

    Between Roberts and Kershaw is an inspired Tony Simpson, who has also won class W4 in all three outings this year in his Seacon UK Ford Fiesta Rally4. The Eccleston driver won his class on last year's Nicky Grist Stages and will this time be co-driven by Stefan Arndt. Alex Cannon/Alan Carfree are second in class W4 and will be aiming to close the gap in their Rallyworld Ford Fiesta R2.

    Sideways and spectacular will be defending class W12 champions Andrew Fox/Jaime-Lee Fox (Xwatch Safety Solutions BMW 325), Dan Chester/Paul Barbet (BMW E30), Ricky Crone/Ifan Devine (MS Textiles Ford Escort Mk2), Geoff Phelps/Colin Jenkins (Hartpury Farms Escort Mk2), Tim Phelps/Elwyn Manuel (Britpart Escort Mk2), Kevin Metcalfe/Ian Jones (BMW E30),pictured above, Clive Price/Robbie Sandford (BMW Compact 318ti), David and Douglas Young (Escort), Mike Brown/Aled Davies (BMW Compact M3) and David Jones/Gwyn Price (Tanner's Arms/GJ Price Transport BMW E30).

    Gethin Price take a strong class W2 lead into the event in his RKP Haulage Nissan Micra. The Machynlleth driver will this time be co-driven by Brynmore Price (who won class W7 as a driver on the opening round of the series). 



    They'll be chased hard by Nigel and Kaz Jenkins, who won the Hockly Motorsport-supported 1400cc class on round two in their NJ Auto Repairs Vauxhall Nova, and gravel rally rookie Dylan Fowler Bishop (co-driven by Dan Evans) in his Restruct-backed Nissan Micra.


    Also aiming for a big bag of points will be defending class champions Adrian and Matthew Walk in their PartBOX Ford Ka, James Dunkley (co-driven by Jack Morris) who won his class on last year's Nicky Grist Stages, Ashley Francis-Adams/Lucy Wilding (T2 Fabrication Nissan Micra), pictured above, Chris Bush/Robert Bryn (Bushtec Recycling Opel Corsa), Luke Watts/Matt Rogers (MG ZR), Edward James/Charlie Mason (Nissan Micra) and Will Banks/Matthew Baddeley (Vauxhall Nova).

    Defending champions Martin Walters/Marie Fletcher will be aiming to extend their class W10 lead in their Digger Parts Direct Honda Civic. Trying to stop them will be son and father duo Dan and Cyril Jones, who have won the class twice this year in their Howard Price Rallying/North Wales Joinery Vauxhall Nova, Alan Desbois/Peter Littlefield in their Peugeot 306 RWD, Lucy Wigley/Emma Cooper,pictured above, who won the class on round two in their Redware Citroën C2, and Michael Jenkins/Jordan Joines (Ford Fiesta).

    Three different drivers have won the OnThePaceNote-supported Welsh Junior Championship class so far this year - James Lepley (Esso Escort Mk2), Eddie Lewis (Mechanical Solutions Ford Fiesta R5) and Sam Mason (Samuel Mason Rallysport Fiesta R2T) - although it's Ben Smith (Amigos Escort RS2000 Mk1),pictured above, who leads the youngsters coming into this weekend's event. 

    Looking for their first Junior win of the season are the rapid Griffiths brothers, Callum (co-driven by William Lewis) and Liam (co-driven by Daniel James) - who are second and third in the table and out for a win in a pair of Presteigne Tyre Services-supported Ford Fiesta STs.

    Bonnie Papper leads the Welsh Junior co-driver's section, ahead of Jack Bowen, Jack Morris, Sam Weller, Ifan Devine and James Seymour (who claimed maximum points last time out).
    The Nicky Grist Stages will be live streamed on the Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship's and Special Stage TV's Facebook pages during the event, featuring action from all the registered competitors.
    Organised by Quinton Motor Club, this year's Nicky Grist Stages is once again based in the centre of Builth Wells, with the start in Strand Street, the finish on the banks of the River Wye and the service area on the Builth Wells RFC pitch. The event contains a 22 stage mile loop through the classic and smooth mid-Wales forests of Llyn Login, Crychan, Halfway and Monument, located in and around the Epynt military range, which is first tackled in the morning and repeated in the afternoon.
    Further details on the Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship can be found online at:

    Friday 30th June 2023

    Paul Evans
    Press Officer, Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Pictures by Paul Mitchell. Please credit 'Paul Mitchell Photography' if used.


  • Hirst Targets Four Championship Wins in a Row

    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.



  • Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship roars back into action.


    After a 518-day enforced break caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship roars back into action next weekend. The Nicky Grist Stages (Saturday 10 July) will feature one of the largest fields of championship contenders ever gathered, all gunning for points in pursuit of title success.


    Covid-19 restrictions have seen motorsport in Wales halted, barring a few exceptions, since the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally on 8 February 2020.


    But now, finally, rallying in the Welsh forests is returning - with an unprecedented demand for places on the start list. This level of interest has produced a quality field of drivers and co-drivers and a vast array of cars unlike anything seen for many years.


    The inclusive Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship class structure features an incredibly wide range of cars driven by former champions, old rivals, newcomers and juniors. The list features the strongest ever contingent from England, Scotland, Ireland, and the Isle of Man, aiming to beat the proudly patriotic and famously fast Welsh home grown rally talent.


    Former Pirelli Welsh National Rally champions preparing for battle are 2019 (and defending) overall title winners Matthew Hirst/Declan Dear in their Mitsubishi Evo IX. They are joined by the 2018 driver champion Dylan Davies/Mark Glennerster (Å koda Fabia R5), the 2017 driver champion Callum Black/Michael Gilbey (Ford Fiesta R5) and the 2000 champions Pete Littler/Andy Marchbank (Ford Escort Mk2).


    These champions will be under pressure from the likes of Ian Bainbridge/Will Atkins, who scored maximum Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship points on the 2020 Cambrian Rally and won last December's Rali Adfer Coedwigoedd Cymru test event in a Å koda Fabia R5. 2019 championship runners-up Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy (Mitsubishi Evo IX), Wug Utting/Bob Stokoe (Subaru Impreza STi N12) and Nik Elsmore/Craig Drew (Mitsubishi Evo IX) will join the fray. Meanwhile, Martyn and Dawn England have swapped their Ford Fiesta R5+ for a Mitsubishi Evo X.


    Also in a new car for this year is the 2019 Welsh Junior champion, Tom Llewellin. Tom, co-driven on this occasion by Ross Whittock, makes his competition debut in a four-wheel-drive Mitsubishi Mirage. Elsewhere in the field, Paul Walker/Geraint Thomas have exchanged their Mitsubishi for a Subaru Impreza.


    With great rallies to learn their skill and the lure of a magnificent prize of a test drive in a PCRS Rallysport-prepared Hyundai i20 R5 (courtesy of OnThePaceNote), the Junior category is buoyant again this year. George Lepley/Tom Woodburn will compete in their Mitsubishi Evo X, Ioan Lloyd/Sion Williams will move up from the Formula 1000 Junior Championship (and a few great road rally results) to a Peugeot 208 R2, and Zak Hughes/Ian Beamond bring their Renault Twingo R2 Evo.


    Other Under-25-year-old hard chargers to look out for include Aoife Raftery/Dylan Doonan (Ford Fiesta), Charlie Todd/Glyn Thomas (Ford Fiesta) and Gethin Price/Matthew Baddeley (Nissan Micra). Lining up alongside will be Jason Black/Karl Egan (Toyota Starlet) and Maxx Bradshaw/Liam Andrew Whiteley, who travel from the Isle of Man in their Mitsubishi Evo III.


    The ever-popular Restruct-sponsored Two-Wheel Drive category has received one of its strongest entries. Nick Elliott/Dave Price, Jonathan Brace/Paul Spooner, Steven Ormond-Smith/Matty Daniels and Frank/Lauren Kelly (to name but a few) are all in Ford Escort Mk2s. Andrew Davison/Tom Murphy bring their Talbot Sunbeam, Alan Desbois/Peter Littlefield wheel out their Peugeot 306 RWD, while David Jones/Glyn Price and Kevin Metcalfe/Ian Jones both appear in BMW E30s.


    More than 50 crews are eligible for the RAVENOL UK Welsh Challenge, which rewards drivers and co-drivers who have yet to finish in the top 10 overall of a Championship round and is open to any competitor in any class.


    The Historic classes are very well represented this year, with many of the front-running Two-Wheel Drive category crews in contention for this title as well. In addition to those Escort Mk2 crews already mentioned, others will be piloted by Paul Barrett/Gordon Noble, David Edwards/Paul Dolby, Paul Street/Ian Jones, Phil Clarke/Steve Pugh, Ryan Barrett/Paul McCann, Robert Gough/Keaton Williams, Rob Dennis/Andy Boswell, Richard Lane/Jez Rogers, Michael Mcdaid/Daniel Petrie, Neal James/Kevin Jones and Ben Friend/Cliff Simmons. Gary Smith/Clive Jones, Andrew Stokes/Jonny Tad Evans, and David Kirby/Martin Corbett appear on the opening round in Escort Mk1s, while Julian Birley/Steve White wheel out a Talbot Sunbeam Ti.


    The new class for Road Rally spec cars has sparked a lot of interest, with the likes of Graham Thatcher/Tim Samuels (Peugeot 206) and the Escort Mk2 duo of Ricky Crone/Daniel James and Rob Wood/Osian Davies battling for early class honours.


    Such is the inclusive class structure of this year's Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship that a driver and co-driver are likely to be eligible for multiple awards. David and Toby Brick are a great example of this, as the giant-killing Vauxhall Nova crew will be battling for honours in the Overall, RAVENOL UK Welsh Challenge, Two-Wheel Drive and Over 50s categories!


    "What a fantastic Nicky Grist Stages we have in prospect," says Dave Evison, Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship Secretary.


    "With just a few days to go, perhaps it's time to reflect on the massive undertaking by all stakeholders involved in making this happen. Events of this stature under normal circumstances take up to eighteen months to organise. Add in a pandemic, and the timeframe is the same, but the commitment required over the same period is immeasurable.


    "The rally fraternity, though, has responded as only they can with a fantastic entry received in an unbelievable fifteen minutes.


    "Event organisers want entries in quality and quantity - they have it! Competitors want competition - they have it! They want fantastic roads - they have them! I can't wait to see the outcome."


    The Nicky Grist Stages contains 44 stage miles spread over eight stages - with a loop of four gravel tests through Llyn Login, Monument, Halfway and Crychan forests in the morning and repeated in the afternoon following a midday service halt at the Royal Welsh Showground in Llanelwedd.


    Spectators are not permitted to watch in any of the stages nor the service area. Instead, the Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship will broadcast live from the event on its Facebook page. Experienced motorsport broadcaster Sideways Media will be filming the action, with driver interviews and expert analysis from Howard Davies and Eifion Jones.


    After each round, a 30 minute edited highlights package will be produced, dedicated to the Welsh National Rally Championship runners, and broadcast on the Championship's Facebook and YouTube channels.


    The Plains Rally, which was scheduled to take place on Saturday 14 August, has been cancelled - meaning that the 2021 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Championship will now consist of five rounds, with the best four scores to count. Round 2 will now be the Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages on Saturday, 4 September.


    Further details on the 2021 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship, together with registration information, can be found online at:


    2021 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship calendar

    10 July.......Nicky Grist Stages

    4 September.......Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages

    16 October.......Winner Garage Å KODA Wyedean Rally

    30 October.......Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally

    13 November.......Rallynuts Stages Rally


  • Record-breaking pre-season entry for the Championship

    Record-breaking pre-season entry for the Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship
    This year's Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship has received a record-breaking number of pre-season registrations - with 155 competitors already lined up to contest the six gravel round series in 2021.
    There is a strong entry in all 14 classes, including the Juniors (with a top prize of a test in a PCRS Rallysport-prepared Hyundai i20 R5, courtesy of OnThePaceNote) and the Restruct sponsored Two-Wheel Drive category. The battle for the overall title is poised to be more intense than ever, with 31 powerful W13 class (formerly B13) four-wheel drive cars and six W14 class (WRC/R5/S2000/RCC) cars registered.
    The RAVENOL Welsh Challenge, which recognises the performance of competitors who have yet to finish in the top 10 overall of a Championship round, remains popular with over 50 crews registered.
    The opening round of the 2021 Welsh National Rally Championship is the Nicky Grist Stages on Saturday 10 July, where over 80 registered drivers have had their entries accepted.
    Dave Evison, Welsh National Rally Championship Secretary since 2010, says that the currently level of interest is the result of many years of work to develop the series.
    "We've seen the Welsh National Rally Championship grow year on year from around thirty two registrations a decade ago to well over a hundred now," says Dave.
    "In 2020 Will Rogers joined the team as we looked forward to raising the Championship profile further and it's all thanks to the hard work of the Welsh Association of Motor Clubs, the individual events and the support we've received the from our long term sponsors Pirelli and RAVENOL UK.
    "Over sixty per cent of this year's pre-season registrations are from returning competitors, which is very pleasing because it shows that we are doing a lot of things right because the competitors have enjoyed the Championship so much that they've come back for more. We're also delighted to see so many new competitors come to the series this year, all of whom have been attracted by the fantastic calendar of events, incentives and the class structure - not least our very buoyant two-wheel drive and junior categories, plus the new road rally class.
    "To see so many competitors registered before the first round, and eighty-four Welsh National Rally Championship registered crews with their entries accepted for the Nicky Grist Stages, is unprecedented. We used to get excited and were very pleased when we had fifty crews contesting a rally, so we are confident that this year's competition will be the best ever. And given the rich history of the Welsh National Rally Championship, that is really saying something."
    Some of the drivers registered for this year's Welsh National Rally Championship include four former champions - Matthew Hirst (Mitsubishi Evo 9), Callum Black (Ford Fiesta R5), Dylan Davies (Å koda Fabia R5) and Paul Walker (Subaru Impreza).

    Also registered is the winner of last December's Rali Adfer Coedwigoedd Cymru test event and maximum Welsh National Rally Championship points scorer on the 2020 Cambrian Rally, Ian Bainbridge (Å koda Fabia R5), 2019 runner-up Russ Thompson (Mitsubishi Evo 9), Wug Utting (Subaru Impreza STi N12B), Nik Elsmore (Mitsubishi Evo 9), Bob Morgan (Å koda Fabia), David Tomlin (Ford Fiesta R5), Martyn England (who has swapped his Ford Fiesta R5+ for a Mitsubishi Evo 10) and the 2019 Junior champion, Tom Llewellin (who returns in a Mitsubishi Mirage R5).
    There is a strong contingent of two-wheel drive competitors, with Nick Elliott, Ben Friend, Rob Dennis, Pete Littler, Gavin Edwards, Owen McMackin, Philip Clarke, and Jonathan Brace, to name a few, driving Escort Mk2s, while Andrew Davison (Talbot Sunbeam), David Jones (BMW E30), Alan Desbois (Peugeot 306 RWD), Kevin Metcalfe (BMW E30) and Gary Smith (Ford Escort Mk1) are also on the list, while Road Rally experts Ricky Crone and Robi Wood join for the first time.
    The Welsh National Rally Championship has received 13 entries from Ireland, including the exciting Frank Kelly, Paul Barrett, Andrew Bustard and David Crossen who will all drive Escort Mk2s. There are also two registrations from the Isle of Man - Max Bradshaw (Mitsubishi Evo) and Steven Ormond-Smith (Mitsubishi Evo IX).
    There are plenty of quality drivers in other classes too - including Juniors George Lepley (Mitsubishi Evo 10), Ioan Lloyd (Peugeot 208 R2) and Zak Hughes (Renualt Twingo) - who will be looking to improve on his second place finish in the Juniors in 2019. Dave Brick is also back and aiming for more giant-killing performances on his Vauxhall Nova.
    The co-driver registrations are also brimming with experience and talent. Declan Dear, the 2019 champion, is returning, as it Andy Murphy who narrowly missed out on winning the title last time out. Multiple champion Andy Marchbank returns, as does Paul Spooner, Mark Glennerster, Dawn England, Craig Drew, Cliff Simmons, Steve McPhee, Andrew Sankey, Dave Price and many more.
    Further details on the 2021 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship, together with registration information, can be found online at:
    2021 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship calendar
    10 July.......Nicky Grist Stages
    14 August.......Plains Rally
    4 September....... Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages
    16 October....... Winner Garage Å KODA Wyedean Rally
    30 October.......Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally
    13 November.......Rallynuts Stages Rally

    For more information, please contact:
    Paul Evans
    07710 743167 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Picture captions
    Top: Matt Hirst/Declan Dear, 2019 Pirelli Welsh National Rally champions (Mitsubishi Evo 9). Picture by Chris Huish.

    Middle left: Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy, 2019 Pirelli Welsh National Rally runners-up (Mitsubishi Evo 9). Picture by Paul Mitchell.
    Middle right: Nicky Grist Stages podium: 1st Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy;
    2nd Matt Hirst/Declan Dear; 3rd Andrew Davison/Tom Murphy (Talbot Sunbeam) - all three crews are returning to the Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship in 2021. Picture by Paul Mitchell.

    Bottom left: Dylan Davies/Mark Glennerster testing their Å koda Fabia R5.
    Bottom right: Paul Walker/Geraint Thomas testing their Subaru Impreza.