The hallowed Brands Hatch Indy circuit awaits more than 50 Mk1s - Photo: Jon Elsey

Last year’s Mazda MX-5 Championship was something of a runaway domination for multiple champion Tom Roche, as after 16 wins from 19 races the title was his at the finale at Silverstone in October. For 2017, however, Tom has chosen to focus solely on the SuperCup sister series for 2017 – which leaves the door open for a new challenger to step up from a registration list that is already 60 drivers deep! SIXTY!

Based on the results of last season, there’s already at least 3 or 4 drivers who could be classified as favourites. Simon Baldwin once again put himself into title contention after a super consistent run of podiums and points finishes, plus his one and only victory at Rockingham to top it all off. Despite a crash at Oulton Park forcing a switch to his back-up car, Baldwin returns ready to make sure that three times’ the charm. Someone who’s now long overdue that first win is Michael Fisk, who came oh so close on a number of occasions in 2016 after hounding Roche on track. His pace is evident and he’s capable of leading a race convincingly, which in turn surely means he’ll grace that top step for the first time at last.

Another man hoping for a repeat of his good fortunes is Oliver Allwood, one of the lucky few drivers chosen to compete in the Global MX-5 Cup Invitational at Laguna Seca last year. From the start, he managed to give Roche plenty of headaches, but a post-USA slump in form only corrected itself come season end with a win at Silverstone. That said, there are others who will want to prove their worth too including Clive Powles, Martin Tolley, Paul Tucker, Paul Bateman, Joshua Jackson and Simon Goddard, all of whom proved themselves on more than one occasion towards the front.

That said, they may all have to wary of a couple of returning faces that could leave them quaking in their racing boots. Former frontrunner Jonathan “JJ” Clements has decided he has more fun in Mk1 MX-5s and returns to stamp his authority, while Will Blackwell-Chambers come back to BRSCC shores after securing an MX-5 title elsewhere. Both will be fighting fit and raring to go, leaving all those mentioned above with quite the task ahead of them to try and stop either from becoming #1.

With some 60 cars registered for this season, there’s also a vast array of new drivers joining some familiar faces. Notable new boys include John Langridge, a former Fiesta champion whose debut in MX-5s at Silverstone last year gave him a Group B race podium, so expect him to get stronger in his first full season driving RWD. New names include Charlie Rawles, Christopher Stapleton, Teddy Clark, Steve Foden, Brian Green and Alan Hawkins, while Patrick Lay will want to build on the Group B race win at Silverstone with more momentum. Plus, there’s more name you’d be foolish to ignore including Jack Warry, Bryn Griffiths, William Stephenson, Courtney Milnes and Jack Brewer to name a few.

The Mazda MX-5 Championship has always been one of the most hotly contested championships in British club motorsport and with so many drivers already signed up for this season, it has all the makings of being an absolute cracker!

It's almost as if the weather gods knew we were out this weekend and the forecast couldn't be better! At the time of writing it shows bright sunshine, clear skies and a high of 18 degrees celcius, meaning that it'll be ideal conditions for racing - and sunglasses! A full breakdown of the forecast is available via the Met Office here - BRANDS HATCH WEATHER.

Also, all the information you need can be found via this post on the BRSCC's Facebook page - BRANDS HATCH INFORMATION.

Scott Woodwiss

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