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Rally title battle to resume at Brands Hatch this month

Tuesday, January 19 2016

This year's edition of the MGJ Engineering Brands Hatch Winter Stages rally on 31 January will have an added dimension, with many of the competitors fighting for the inaugural Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship.

The Brands Hatch Winter Stages opens the second half of the MSVR-run championship, which began at Oulton Park last November and visited Cadwell Park and Rockingham before Christmas. The fifth round comes just two weeks after the Jack Frost Stages Rally at Croft in Yorkshire.

The new year started badly for Driver's Championship leader James Sharrock. After posting competitive times in the early running, his Ford Escort MkII stopped on the fifth stage, preventing him from completing the distance. However with overall points taken from each competitor's seven best scores, Sharrock remains in a strong position heading into the final four events provided that he finishes all of them.

Sharrock's regular co-driver Stuart Faulds was substituted at the last round, but will be back at Brands Hatch, so he remains in a strong position in the Co-Driver's Championship. Nearest rival Martin Haggett, and his driver Mike Taylor finished fourth in class and 17th overall at Croft in their Talbot Sunbeam Lotus, whilst Ashley Field, fifth in the Driver's standings, enjoyed a strong day, ending up second and leading the class in his Darrian T90 GTR+.

The Croft result has dramatically closed up the championship, leaving Field at the top of the Driver's standings by three points from Taylor, with Sharrock a further six in arrears. Haggett enjoys a 17-point lead over Sarah Alys Edwards in the Co-Driver's Championship, whilst Faulds is a further ten behind. With overall and class points counting towards each competitor's championship total, there will be plenty to fight for at Brands Hatch.

The battle for the overall rally win will be much harder to predict, with the opening round winners not currently entered for the Brands Hatch event. Co-driver Patrick Walsh has taken two victories, the first at the opening Oulton Park Neil Howard Stages in a Subaru Impreza WRC 07 with Stephen Simpson. Walsh was in the passenger seat at last weekend's Jack Frost Stages alongside Guy Smith in a Ford Focus WRC. However World Rally specials didn't win the Cadwell Park North Humberside Rally or the Rockingham Stages, both taken by the Proton Satria Neo of David Tinn.

Entries for the rally include classics, specially-prepared hatchbacks, sportscars and bespoke WRC machinery. Over 100 cars will tackle the eight stages which will use sections of the Indy circuit, pits, paddock, access roads and the venue's dedicated rally stage. You can download the entry list by clicking here and the stage maps by clicking here.

Driver's Championship top five
1. Ashley Julian Field, 154
2. Mike Taylor, 151
3. James Sharrock, 145
4. Nigel Mummery, 141
5. Mike Bayliss, 139

Co-Driver's Championship top five
1. Martin Haggett, 184
2. Sarah Alys Edwards, 167
3. Stuart Faulds, 157
4. Marc Fowler, 150
5. Michael Juric, 127

Tickets for the MGJ Engineering Brands Hatch Winter Stages are available for £12, with free entry for under-13s. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click here.