17 Jan Preview Round 4 – The MGJ Engineering Brands Hatch Stages
It’s a belated Happy New Year from all of us as the Brands Hatch Stages marks the return of the Motorsport New Circuit Rally Championship at the famous Kent circuit.
Iconic corners such as Paddock Hill Bend and Druids have played their part in many a motor race down the years, but this weekend they are tackled by a maximum entry list of 90 rally competitors for the fourth event of an already tight season.
The series has enjoyed three different winners from as many rallies so far, and the latest of them, Frank Bird, returns with Jack Morton after a strong December looking for a hat-trick of rally wins together in their Ford Focus WRC07.
The potential spoilers include Steve Finch and the rapid James Self in their respective Ford Fiestas, the latter finishing fourth in the Oulton Park season opener. Richard Wells was rewarded for his Mitsubishi switch with a maiden podium last time out at Knockhill, while Josh Davey aims to put persistent gearbox troubles aside to break his duck.
Davey’s is one of five Darrian T90s taking to the Brands Stages, looking for a second class C victory of the season. The class has otherwise been falling into the hands of Mike English in his Cetus Solutions-backed Ford Escort Mk2, grabbing two wins in succession in difficult conditions.
Watch out for the fabulous Peugeot 205 of Ashley Davies which returns to the circuits after missing Knockhill, as does the Porsche Cayman of seasoned MNCRC veteran, Ciro Carannante.
The class B battle has been an intriguing one this season. Chris Ruck’s (Opel Corsa) star performances in the opening rounds was put on hold by Ashleigh Morris at Knockhill, and the Ford Fiesta driver will want to maintain her winning run with confidence as high as ever.
Similarly in class A, Ron Walker has hit a purple patch of form in taking three wins from three in terms of championship points, keeping the Ford Puma man in the hunt for what is a hotly-contested overall title battle.
Walker will be looking back for the returning Adam Ripper in his rapid Nissan Micra, as well as the nimble Vauxhall Nova of Christopher Newton which enjoyed some spectacular two-wheeled antics at the same event 12 months ago.
Paul Sheard returns for more in his Mazda MX5, as does the Proton Satria Millington of Tony Robinson. Nigel Greensall enjoys his first outing of the season, bringing back one of two rallying versions of Toyota’s GT86, along with David Huxley’s Castrol-sponsored edition.
The MGJ Engineering Brands Hatch Winter Stages will offer up eight stages and approximately 45 miles of rally action across Sunday 18 January 2020.