Simon Baldwin (#48)'s blue and orange machine will be sidelined in favour of his green and yellow Mk1 after his Oulton incident - Photo: Jon Elsey

We’re at the half way stage in the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Championship and so far we’ve seen a lot of frantic and high-energy action up and down the field across all of the first 4 meetings. Now the second half of the season kicks in for our drivers, as Brands Hatch beckons. This time the Mk1s take to the Indy layout that was last used by them in 2014, after last year’s visit was a run on the GP loop.

It’s hard to find more superlatives to sum up just what kind of a season that points leader Tom Roche has had so far. The Welshman has only failed to win one race due to retirement, while all the others have seen no one but him reach the top step of the podium. Brands appears to be a happy hunting ground for Tom, so that should have all of his rivals feeling nervous once again. Also, given the fact that he continues to dovetail his Mk1 campaign as a frontrunner in the Mk3 SuperCup, it’s beyond belief just how he able to divide his focus between both and still run at the front!

One man looking to rebound after a fairly difficult Oulton Park is Oliver Allwood, who arrives here fresh off the back of his prize trip to Barcelona for the European MX-5 Cup Final. There’s no doubt that he’ll be fired up after testing himself against Europe’s best, so here’s hoping the car setup works in his favour this time and he’s up there giving Roche a hard time once more. His AB Motorsport teammate Michael Fisk, on the other hand, had a brilliant breakthrough meeting last time with 2 second places and pace early on to keep up with Roche. He will arrive here at Brands riding on the crest of a wave and determined for more.

Giving chase will be drivers like Simon Baldwin, who made it to the podium in the first race at Oulton before an incident in the second left him with a repair job to try and get his car ready in time. The two men he found himself battling with all weekend were Clive Powles and Brian Trott. The former is still waiting for that first win after coming close on the podium a number of times so far, while Trott scored his first rostrum visit last time and will definitely look to build on that.  Another driver who had a very satisfying meeting that day was Martin Tolley, with a 6th and 4th providing him with a stack of points and more confidence to build on here at Brands.

After his one-off run in the SuperCup, James Harris is back to make up for lost ground and while the learning curve to adapt to the Mk3 appears to be a high one at the moment, he’s very much accustomed to the Mk1. His best result so far has been two 3rd places at Anglesey, so he’ll be keen to build on that and score some more solid finishes. Drivers who are also getting closer towards the front include Paul Tucker, Paul Bishop and Paul Bateman, while Simon Goddard wants to continue pressing on with building up his campaign this season after a late start.

We should also acknowledge those who run at the front of races in Group B, who also get silverware of their own to take home. Matt Pickford took his ex-Brian Chandler title winning car to victory lane once again at Oulton, as did Joshua Jackson in his race. Ivan Leary can get it done when everything comes together for him, while Jack Warry has impressed a lot of people with his development as a rookie this year with Go4It Racing in his first ever season of racing. Team boss Kevin Brent scored a Group B 2nd place himself last time, while Simon Woods, Simon Orange and Paul Austin all paid visits too.

We also want to welcome Scott Ferguson and Jonathan Fieldsend to the Championship for the first time in 2016, so the very best of luck to you both!

Your entry list for this weekend reads as follows:

5 Richard Collins
8 Michael Fisk
10 Jonathan Fieldsend
14 Jake Bailey
16 Matt Pickford
18 Clive Powles
19 Oliver Robinson
20 Paul Maguire
23 Martin Tolley
25 Ivan Leary
29 Adam Craig
30 Paul Austin
32 Andrew Adams
37 James Harris
39 Scott Ferguson
42 Paul Bateman
46 Simon Goddard
48 Simon Baldwin
56 Bryn Griffiths
61 Lewis Field
62 William Stephenson
63 Oliver Allwood
67 Simon Orange
68 Paul Tucker
72 Joshua Jackson
74 Clive Chisnall
80 Anthony Hutchins
88 Stuart Symonds
93 Jack Brewer
96 Michael Lawson
99 Patrick Collins
101 Simon Woods
107 Sam Bailey
111 Danny Green
125 Tom Roche
132 Jack Warry

The weather forecast for this weekend can be found courtesy of the Met Office HERE.

Once again, the entry will be split into two groups who will qualify separately once again. Let’s see who’s got what it takes to handle one of the UK’s best loved circuits and come out on top. Who knows – we may even get a surprise!

Scott Woodwiss

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Brands Hatch - 23rd - 24th Mar 2019

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