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Mark Kelly and Andy Baker kick off 2018 season with rally win

Monday, January 22 2018

Mark Kelly and Andy Baker became the first Brands Hatch winners of the 2018 season on Saturday (20 January), boosting their title aspirations with victory in the MGJ Engineering Brands Hatch Winter Stage Rally.

The Ford Escort Mk II pairing defeated Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship leaders Chris West and Keith Hounslow to win the eight-stage event, which incorporated sections of the Indy circuit, pits, paddock and rally stage. The Peugeot 306 Maxi partnership finished in second place, however, and still hold a useful advantage in the title standings, with half of the season remaining.

Reigning Drivers' Champion Ian Woodhouse finished in third place with Jason Leaf, who co-drove the pairing's Ford Escort Mk II. The top three finished with less than half a minute separating them, with Class E winners John Stone and Jack Morton over a minute behind in their Ford Fiesta.

John Marshall and Scott Crawford's Subaru Impreza took fifth place, just seven seconds ahead of the leading Ferrari 308 Michelotto of Lee Jones and Thomas Grogan. The winning Class C Ford Escort of Roger and Sam Cox finished a further 20 seconds in arrears in seventh place overall.

Other class winners included the Mazda MX-5 of Paul Sheard and Steve Dolman (B) in 17th place overall, with David McMullan and Jamie Elston 's Vauxhall Nova (A) in 24th place.

The crews will now be heading to Snetterton for the next round of the Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship on Sunday 18 January.

MGJ Engineering Brands Hatch Winter Stages top ten
1, Mark Kelly & Andy Baker, Ford Escort Mk2, Class D,1 39:43s
2, Chris West & Keith Hounslow, Peugoet 306 Maxi Kit, Class D, +6s
3, Ian Woodhouse & Jason Leaf, Ford Escort Mk2, Class D, +23s
4, John Stone & Jack Morton, Ford Fiesta NRC, Class E, +1:49s
5, John Marshall & Scott Crawford, Subaru Impreza, Class E, +1:56s
6, Lee Jones & Thomas Grogan, Ferrari 308 Michelotto Gr.4, Class D, +2:03s
7, Roger Cox & Sam Cox, Ford Escort, Class C, +2:23s
8, Stephen Beck & Paul Brown, Ford Escort Mk2, Class C, +2:25s
9, Tim Mewett & Liz Jordan, Ford Escort Mk2, Class C, +2:26s
10, James Slaughter & Jack Hanley, Ford Fiesta R5, Class E, +2:48s

Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship standings
1, Keith Hounslow, Co-Driver, 215
2, Chris West, Driver, 213
3, Andy Baker, Co-Driver, 197
4, John Stone, Driver, 195
5, Mark Kelly, Driver, 192
6, Ian Woodhouse, Driver, 187

The Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship heads to Snetterton on Sunday 18 January. Tickets are on sale from £13, with free entry for under-13s. For more information or to buy tickets, call 0843 453 9000 or click here.