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16 October 2014
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Nicky Grist

World Rally Champion

I was interested in road rallies, late night low-speed navigational events, and joined a local motorclub in Abergavenny as I wanted to get involved. I met other competitors and got an insight into what events were coming up. I started competing in a different form of motorsport, stage rallying, involving high speed on closed roads. After a few years, I was approached by a driver for Vauxhall and got my first semi-professional drive. In 1990, I was offered a full-time job in rally sport

The job:
You wouldn’t be able to jump into a professional seat and perform! You really need to build up a level of expertise. To do this job, you have to have a good nerve, a good level of concentration, be meticulous in preparation…and not suffer from travel sickness! Seriously, attention to detail really makes the difference.

I learnt the hard way - it’s the best! Navigation and map-reading isn’t natural and it comes after time. I asked friends with more experience and learnt from them. By going through your local motor club you can pick up on others’ experience. It’s important never to be afraid to ask.

Big break:
It is difficult to get a professional contract and make money and I know I’m lucky to do this. Getting a chance to compete at world level is the thing. In 1992, I joined one of the most successful teams, Toyota, and I knew that was my starting point.

Winning my first World Championship was very special to me. Due to a colleague’s serious illness, I was a last-minute draft in. We led from the first stage to the last and my career took off. Other highlights have been winning my home round of the World Championship and aiding the driver to win the World championship in 1993. Currently, I am a few events from being the most successful co-driver in the world. It’s teamwork that matters as the co-driver and driver are interdependent.

Towards the end of ’95, we were close to winning the World Championship and the team was caught cheating with modifications to the car which we were totally oblivious to. We lost all our points and were banned from the Championship. Everything we had worked for was gone! The year after was bad!

Tips from the top:
If you are interested, get out and compete in as many events as you can. Get experience. Look at my website for the tips page -

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Cymraeg (Welsh)

Also see...
Adam Palfrey
Cyril the Swan
Delyth Morgan
Gabby Yorath
Ian Barker
Joe Calzaghe

Mark Hughes
Matthew Stevens
Miles Orchard
Nathan Blake
Nicky Grist

Tanni Grey Thompson


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