Q&A: Nicky Grist - EXCLUSIVE.

by Rob Wilkins

Nicky Grist was at the 2006 Rallyday recently and Crash.net Radio caught up with him there to chat to him about that event and his last outing in the WRC back in Australia at the end of last year. He also talks about the X-Games Rally, which gets underway this week in the USA, running from August 2-6 and the current state of the WRC...

Nicky, I know you have only just arrived at the Rallyday, but what are your initial impressions?

Nicky Grist:
It's a great day out for the rally fan. I mean you can see a fantastic selection of cars here. It is hard work to put this event together but it has been growing and growing every year and I think the word is really getting out. It is a must-be at venue for the rally fan now and with so many stars here it is a good chance for them to get some autographs.

Of course this time last year, you were out in action or about to go out and compete in the Skoda Fabia WRC with Colin McRae. You almost took a podium with it too on the Rally Australia...

Yeah it was so sad that it all had to come to an end the way it did. I felt sorry, not so much for myself, but for the team, when they had been working hard for years and years and years, with absolutely no reward and here we were in a position, we were fighting for second place and we were confident we could get it and then we came into service with a perfect car and then we went OTL [over the time limit] through a silly clutch change. The team was distraught, I have never seen so many grown men cry but that is the way it is. Skoda in their wisdom decided to go in a different direction this year - we had a possibility to perhaps go out and perform ourselves with them, but as it is, we have not done any serious competition WRC wise now. We have done a few events, just for fun, but everybody has to stop sometime and while we are still competitive, it is a great time to bow out.

Do you miss competing though at the sharp end or do you really feel now is the time to draw the line?

To be honest we have been dabbling with a few events here and there. We were out on the Donegal Rally in Ireland some weeks back, with Colin's old 6R4, which we had some great fun with. We have done some events in his Escort as well - we did the Pirelli International and did some great slides there. That is a proper sounding car, none of these turbo charged things. We are off to California soon too because we are competing in a competition called the 'X Games', which is a televised event through-out the US.

That is quite a big event in America isn't it?

Well it is the first time they have ever run it for rally cars. They have run it for motocross and tricks, where they do these rotating spins and all that kind of carry on. But now they are having this purpose made part for rally cars and it is the first time it is going to be used. They have invited us to go over there and compete against the top American championship runners, so we will see how we get on. It is though going to be an interesting event, I am sure.

Are you and Colin going to show them how it is done?

I am sure Colin will show them a few tricks or two, but we are running in an open class car, which is a more powerful version of a Group N production car and then we have got to use the organisers' notes and we don't know what they are like. We have got to run on stages we have not run on before and we will have to see how all these things pile-up. I am sure though that Colin's ability will make up for a lot of things and he will no doubt give the spectators something to smile at.

Looking forward to it then?

Yeah absolutely, when you have got the opportunity to go out and perform it is great, because that is in your blood. But when you have actually got a proper competition and you can go out to win, because this is a serious event, then it just adds to it all. We have been in this sport for so many years now and you take in your stride really. Doing just the odd event now and then, it a nice way for us to wind things down.

What have you made of the WRC this season, Sebastien Loeb has been pretty dominant hasn't he?

Yeah he has. I think that was always going to be the case. The big question was how the new Ford was going to perform. It was always going to be a question of reliability from the start and that's the way it has panned out. It has been exceptionally quick but has then broken down and they are still having some dramas from time to time, but even so they are getting there now with the car and they will put in a serious charge towards the end of the year, that, I am sure of. But at the moment Sebastien has got a good hold on the championship and there is nobody else as quick as him. The Subaru with Petter Solberg, they are not really at the races anymore, so all Sebastien has got to do, even if Marcus Gronholm goes off winning all the rallies left, is pick up eight points and finish in second. So I think the championship really is Citroen's and Sebastien Loeb's for the taking again this year.

What do you make of Sebastien's form in light of the fact the Xsara WRC is run by Kronos and not Citroen Sport?


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Colin McRae and Nicky Grist
Colin McRae / Nicky Grist - Skoda Fabia WRC 05
Nicky Grist
Skoda Fabia R 5 (CZE), Skoda motorsport [Credit: Skoda motorsport]
World Rallycross, 2015 grid line up [Credit: World Rallycross championship]
Hyundai continues development on the new i20 WRC
Skoda Fabia R5
Skoda Fabia R5
Davy Jeanney and Timmy Hansen, Team Peugeot-Hansen, WRX [Credit: WRX]
Craig Breen and his Peugeot Academy team celebrate on Circuit of Ireland podium   [pic credit: ERC]
Emil Bergkvist - Opel Adam   [pic credit: ERC]
Craig Breen - Peugeot Rally Academy 208T16   [pic credit: ERC]
Kajetan Kajetanowicz. Circuit of Ireland Rally 2015 [Pic credit: ERC]
Robert Barrable. Circuit of Ireland Rally 2015 [Pic credit: ERC]
Craig Breen. Circuit of Ireland Rally 2015 [Pic credit: ERC]
Craig Breen (IRE), Peugeot, FIA ERC [Credit: ERC PR]
Teemu Suninen (FIN), Toyota Motorsport [Credit: WRC.com]
RX: World Rallycross, UK talent competition [Credit: FIA World Rallycross media]

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