In Britain and beyond, there are a number of rallies named in honor of some famous racer who has already died, for example – Jim Clark Memorial Rally. But it is possible to see the names of still alive racing masters in the event names. Malcolm Wilson and Nicky Grist stand out in the BTRDA championship, which is probably the second most important in the UK. The first one takes place in the spring, and the second one, Nicky Grist Stages – in the middle of July.
Unlike the main UK Championship, the BTRDA rounds only take place on gravel and mostly in Welsh roads, with a few exceptions of course. Cars are also different. GB championship involves crews driving the R5 and R2 cars, while the BTRDA allows much more colorful equipment, like a variety of WRCs, N4s, or historic cars. Also in the BTRDA series the rally usually does not reach 70 kilometers of stages, while in the main championship it can reach up to 200 kilometers.
Well, this rally got Nicky Grist’s name for a very simple reason – the former co-driver of C.Mcrea and other famous racers is backing the rally. Nicky himself did not run away from motorsport after finishing his professional co-driver career in 2005. He took part in the Colin Mcrae Rally’s game and showed himself in various motorsport TV shows, but later British launched his motorsport business in 2006. It all began with the export of Stilo brand helmets to Great Britain, with the help of two Italians, the owners, and developers of this firm. Nicky soon supplied all the necessary equipment not only for the rally but also for other motorsports. His clients included people like Peter Solberg, Sebastian Loeb, Ken Block, and N.Grist was not short of World Rally Championship battalions. In addition, he advises the FIA on security issues and has established a co-driver academy.
Nicky himself began his co-pilot career in 1983 and has participated in various British rallies for seven years. The British have been very active for almost seven years, running 10-16 events per season. And so in 1990, N.Grist began his career in the World Rally Championship, reading the notes for Malcolm Wilson, who is the current boss of M-Sport. After two years with Malcolm – the partnership with Juha Kankunen began, where Nicky achieved his first victory at the WRC. After four years with Juha, 6 years long legendary, and the best-known story of a stalwart Colin Mcrea followed. Unfortunately, with both Juha and Colin, the British failed to win the WRC Championship title.
Well, in whose honor a pint of British ale was raised up? Euan Thorburn, a Scot, has no match in this rally, just like this year’s BTRDDA. Moved from a Ford Fiesta R5 to a Ford Focus WRC ’05 which was once raced by Mark Martin and Francois Duval earlier, the Scot is picking one victory after another. Although this is not new to the Scot. He has become a national champion a couple of times and even the BTRDA title stands on the trophy shelf, won in 2013 with the Ford Focus WRC ’01.
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Photo – Stanislav Kučera