Verstappen senior to compete in star-studded Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages

Former Grand Prix racer Jos Verstappen, father of three-time Formula 1 world champion Max, is heading to Mid Wales this weekend to compete for the first time in a British rally.

The flying Dutchman, who turned to rallying in 2022, will sensationally be running at 14th, having chosen the Llandrindod Wells-based Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages to make his UK debut.

“We are very happy to come to Wales and the British Rally Championship,” Verstappen said. “Renaud [Jamoul, co-driver] has done Wales Rally GB several times but, for me, these stages will be the first.

“I only started rallying two years ago but only with tarmac events. After two test sessions in the wintertime in the south of France, we have decided to do our first proper gravel rally and, as Renaud has some really good memories in Wales, this rally was looking like the best one to start with.

“There is no plan in terms of performance because it will be my first time on gravel but for sure the target is to improve and be as close as possible to the top guys. The entry field will be again really competitive, so we are looking forward [to it].”

One of the most popular gravel rallies in the UK, the Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages returns this Saturday, April 13, as the event celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Sponsored by established racewear and accessory firm Rallynuts Motorsport for an eighth consecutive year, Midland Manor Motor Club has pulled out all the stops to create a truly world-class event which celebrates the past but embraces the future.

Epic stages, such as Myherin and Sweet Lamb Hafren, remain, but the mileage has been upped from 45 to 62 without an increased entry fee – making this one of the longest single-day forest rallies in years.

An entry of 180 cars, including world, European, American and multiple British rally champions, will tackle the event.

Competitors from a staggering nine different championships will come together as the Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages excitedly welcomes the Probite British Rally Championship for the very first time, bringing the best drivers in the country to Mid Wales.

Their battle will be broadcast to millions of television screens in the weeks after the event with a one-hour highlights programme aired on ITV4 and streamed on ITVX.

BRC crews will be joined by those from the Protyre BTRDA Rally Series, Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship, West Wales Rally Spares HRCR Stage Masters, T.C.S Plant Rally Challenge and Bowler Defender Challenge, while the Fuchs Lubricants British Historic Rally Championship returns for the first time since 2017.

Single-make series, the MG3 Challenge and Stellantis Motorsport Rally Cup, complete the roster, providing spectators an impressive variety of cars to watch.

European Rally champion and World Rally regular Chris Ingram will pull away from the Metropole Hotel on Saturday morning as the top seed, as he bids to win his second British championship rally in a row following success on last month’s North West Stages.

“We got off to the perfect start in the North West and we aim to continue like that on gravel for round two,” he said. “The Severn Valley features some of the world’s best rally stages in the heart of Wales and I just can’t wait to get going.

“We are already enjoying the BRC challenge so much, and gravel will probably be even more fun. It all clicks when I’m driving a trusty Polo with Alex [Kihurani] calling the notes, but anything can happen in rallying. We’ll aim to consistently drive at our pace and avoid mistakes.”

Ingram is the favourite to win, but the Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 ace won’t have it easy with competition coming from all corners. Reigning Junior World Rally champion William Creighton and local driver Osian Pryce both gave Ingram a hard time on the first round and start just behind the Englishman in their Ford Fiesta Rally2 this time around.

Also Fiesta mounted, four-time British champion and current leader of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, Keith Cronin, will be out to prove his pace on gravel is just as strong as Tarmac. He starts ahead of M-Sport driver Garry Pearson, who enters the Rallynuts for the first time since he won both the BTRDA and Welsh championship titles in 2021.

Victor that year, Eliot Payne, is the highest seeded of this year’s BTRDA runners, just ahead of 2022 Rallynuts winner Matthew Hirst, who starts first of the Welsh championship contenders.

James Williams starts at eight, ahead of the stunning new Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 of Meirion Evans, while Callum Black completes the top-10 seeds in his Fiesta.

The British Historic contingent is led away by the Mitsubishi Galant VR4 of George Lepley and Dale Bowen, with the likes of Nick Elliott’s FIAT 131, Matt Robinson’s Ford Escort MKII and Seb Perez’s Porsche 911 chasing him down.

Smaller-engine cars and the older historic category vehicles will be first onto the stages, with three spectacular viewing locations available to spectators. Each test is run twice, with Bonhams Cars Sarnau, just outside of Abbeycwmhir. starting proceedings at 8:39am and again at 2:11pm.

Myherin is accessed from `The Arch` off Devil’s Bridge and runs at 9:53am and 3:03pm, with CiderOnline.com Hafren Sweet Lamb taking place at 10:59am and finally at 4:16pm, the last stage of the rally.

There are plenty of opportunities to meet and mingle with the stars as well as see the cars, with the introduction of a free of charge autograph session on Friday evening at the Metropole Hotel in Llandrindod Wells from 6:30pm.

Spectators are also welcome at Saturday morning’s event start and the finish, both at the Metropole Hotel, where the winners will be crowned.

For more information on ticket prices, locations and timings, please visit www.rallynutsrally.co.uk/spectators. Follow the event’s social media feeds for all the latest news: www.facebook.com/RallynutsStagesRally and www.twitter.com/rallynutsstages .