Circuit of Ireland Rally 8/9th April

On the weekend of the 8/9th April the MSA British Rally Championship returns to the iconic Circuit of Ireland following a 25-year absence, with the best of the new-wave of British stars going head-to-head with the best in Ireland and Europe over 200 kilometres of closed road action.

Following a year's sabbatical, the re-energised BRC made a successful return with its opening round of the season - the Mid Wales Stages, showcasing the new breed of cars, drivers and classes to put on a thoroughly entertaining show to relaunch Britain's premier rallying series.

The Circuit of Ireland gets under way next weekend with over 40 registered BRC crews leaving the Belfast ceremonial start on the Thursday evening (7 April) ahead of two action-packed days through the lanes of Northern Ireland. Leading the cars away will be 2015 event winner and former BRC title challenger Craig Breen.

BRC Championship leader Elfyn Evans is the first BRC-registered competitor at car two in his DMACK-backed Ford Fiesta R5, with points-topping Irish Tarmac Championship driver Keith Cronin seeded at number five. Cronin's DGM Citroen stablemate Jonathan Greer will also be on the charge in search of more points to add to his 2016 BRC tally. Ahlin and David Bogie drive Ford Fiesta R5 and Skoda Fabia R5 respectively, both in the hunt for the outright win as they try to close the gap to Evans in the fight for the overall title. The third car in the CA1 fold will be for Tarmac ace Alex Laffey in his Ford Fiesta R5.

Tom Cave finished on the podium on the opening round in his Spencer Sport-run Fiesta R5 and will certainly be a threat in his Michelin-shod car on the Circuit?s bumpy asphalt, while fellow Michelin runner Rhys Yates will be searching for his first points in his luminous yellow and black Fiesta R5.

Homegrown Irish heroes include Robert Woodside in his Karcher-backed Fiesta R5 on familiar ground while the Moffett brothers - Josh and Sam - will once again be challenging for a top five result on home territory. Multiple MSA Asphalt Champion Damian Cole cannot be discounted on his preferred surface as the Welshman seeks a top result in his S2000-specification Fiesta, while Euan Thorburn will bring his Peugeot 208 T16 to a happy hunting ground for the French marque. Max Vatanen, Jamie Anderson and Hugh Hunter all have limited asphalt experience and cannot be underestimated on the tough Tarmac tests, all three wanting to build experience and take the fight to the sealed-surface regulars.

The Circuit of Ireland returns as BRC's 'jewel in the crown', providing a much-anticipated opportunity for the best of Europe and Irish drivers to go head-to-head - so anything can happen!

The new-look BRC has seven events across the British Isles as it tours England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland before culminating on the daunting lanes of the Isle of Man. Asphalt special stages and gravel tests will see the country's finest drivers in the best cars fight for overall supremacy on 7 premier rallys. The action can be viewed from the comforts of your armchair throughout the year on Channel 4 and BT Sport. The final event will count for double points, while each driver has one 'Joker' card to play on one of the first six rounds. Selected a week before each round, the 'Joker' card can only be played once, enabling the driver to double the points scored on his nominated event.

2016 BRC Top Ten Positions after one round

Pos ... Driver ... Total
1. Elfyn Evans 50
2. Fredrik Ahlin 15
3. Tom Cave 10
4. David Bogie 8
5. Euan Thorburn 6
6. Josh Moffett 5
7. Matt Edwards 4
8. Jonathan Greer 3
9. Keith Cronin 2
10. Desi Henry 1

2nd April, 2016