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MSA British Rally Championship competitors will not only be battling for overall positions when they congregate in Antrim for round five of the six-round 2012 season – the Todds Leap International Rally NI – held this Friday and Saturday. Some will also be fighting for points in the five support championships and three manufacturer one-make series’ that are included in this season’s BRC. And HERE’s how they stand:

MSA BRITISH MANUFACTURERS RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
This year’s MSA British Manufacturers’ title is a three-way battle of the brands: Citroën, Renault and Ford, with scores towards the title calculated from each of the manufacturers’ two leading cars.

Wins and podium places in rounds two, three and four means that Citroën UK leads the standings by 28 points, with Renault UK’s win on round one securing them second place. They are currently just one point ahead of Ford Motor Company who’s R2 Fiestas have been punching above their weight against the more powerful R3 cars that represent the French manufacturers.

MSA BRITISH JUNIOR RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
Underpinning the BRC’s commitment to reward its rising stars, a new-look Junior Championship has been introduced for this season. Open to drivers of 23 and under in Class 10 (R1) cars, this initiative sees the winner recognised with the prestigious title of MSA British Junior Rally Champion.

20-year old Renault Twingo R1 driver Garry Pearson from Duns currently holds a 20-point lead in the category. He was hoping to extend his advantage last time out, when his main rival Steve Røkland (also 20-years old) from Norway was absent from the entry list, but a non-finish by the Scotsman due to a broken driveshaft means that the counter is reset this weekend.

PIRELLI STAR DRIVER
This year’s Pirelli Star Driver competition selects a winner from each round, plus the winner of the MSA British Junior Rally Championship. Each then go forward to an end-of-season shootout where they compete for a prize designed to boost their progression in the sport. This award is being demonstrated this year by 2011 Pirelli Star Driver Jukka Korhonen, who was awarded a fully-funded programme to contest the 2012 BRC driving a Škoda Fabia R2.

So far this year the three winners of the coveted yellow jersey – the item presented to the successful driver that best symbolises the Star Driver nomination – are: Mark Donnelly (round one), Tom Cave (round two), Jussi Kumpumäki (round three) and Matthew Cathcart (round four).

In keeping with the rules of the selection process, the winner from this weekend will not be announced until the finish. However, if other years are anything to go by, it would be foolish to predict the nominee, as the Todds Leap International Rally NI often springs a surprise when it comes to the Pirelli Star Driver competition.

BRC TEAMS CUP
The new-format BRC Teams Cup is aimed at professional motorsport teams running two cars. Six teams are currently registered.

Drivers are pre-nominated, but can change from event-to-event. All six rounds count towards the final championship classification, with only the highest-placed of the team’s two cars scoring points.

After four rounds the battle for the BRC Teams’ Cup is still wide open, with M-Sport Ford topping the tables and proving that consistency is key if you want to win a championship. Flag bearer for the Fiesta-based team has been Elfyn Evans, who’s shown that a Class 6 (R2) car is scant disadvantage against the Class 5 (R3) cars.

he Welshman was ably supported by Matthew Cathcart on the Jim Clark Rally but, with the return of Trillick’s Alastair Fisher to the fold this weekend, the driver line up reverts to what it was for the first three rounds of the season.

11-points adrift in second place is the Pirelli TEG Sport team. Also running a pair of R2 cars – but in this case Škoda Fabias – the team will again comprise Pirelli Star driver Jukka Korhonen from Finland and 17-year old Arron Newby from Carnforth, who will be aiming for better luck and a clean run this weekend following his dramatic exit from the Jim Clark Rally.

Another team that has shown that consistency pays off is AVS Motorsport, with its main points scorer Gethin Jones from Chepstow, driving one of the team’s Ford Fiesta STs. Currently third in the standings and seven points behind Pirelli TEG Sport, the team re-recruits Citroën DS3 driver James Grint from Hitchen to provide the its second entry in Northern Ireland.

Although not registering until the round two – which it won – a second Team’s Cup victory for Davies Motorsport Services in round four saw it jump to fourth in the points table, just three behind AVS and, more significantly, the team is now in an excellent position to challenge for the title. Once again, Welshmen Tom Cave and Osian Pryce will represent the team, both driving Citroën DS3s.

With Niko-Pekka Nieminen and Jussi Kumpumaki caught out by the unpredictable roads of Berwickshire and therefore scoring a pair of non-finishes on the Jim Clark Rally, it means that Ford Junior Team Finland dropped from equal-second to fourth in the space of one round. They now occupy fifth place, six points behind DMS.

After the team’s sole entry of Callum Black retired from round one and then had to miss the next two rounds whilst his new Citroën DS3 was being built, the Millers Oils 586 Team made a welcome return to the BRC for round four. Therefore the team is currently sixth, although its 34-point deficit to fifth s likely to be reduced significantly this weekend.

RAVENOL OILS BRC PRIVATEERS CUP
For drivers who compete outside of the six official teams, the Ravenol Oils BRC Privateers Cup allows 18 out of the 27 registered competitors to score points towards this recently introduced category.

With three maximum scores for current overall Championship leader Keith Cronin, it is hardly surprising that he is also the leading privateer. The Irishman is just three points in front of fellow Citroën DS3 driver Desi Henry, who’s consistent finishing record has seen him score well in this category.

Making it an all-Irish 1,2,3 is Mark Donnelly, the Renault Clio Driver also scoring well and is now just five points behind Henry. He is being chased by Carryduff’s Jonny Greer, who is only four points further back and is destined to do well on his home turf driving his Citroën DS3.

BRC ONE-MAKES SERIES
The MSA British Rally Championship features three, one-make series

Citroën Racing Trophy UK
With a €10,000 prize fund for the top three finishers on each event, seven of the eight drivers competing in DS3s are registered for this year’s Citröen Racing Trophy UK.

Top-scoring on round one and then posting a series of consistent finishes means that leading the series by three points is Desi Henry, but with two outright wins to his name, Keith Cronin is catching up fast and currently holds second place.

Just four points separate the twice-British Rally Champion and round-two Citröen Racing Trophy and overall winner Tom Cave, whilst in fourth and not that far behind is Osian Pryce, followed closely by Jonny Greer.

Fiesta SportTrophy
His run of outstanding performances this year means that Elfyn Evans is clear leader of the FordFiesta SportTrophy. He currently stands 25-points in front of second-placed Gethin Jones, who has also impressed by putting his older and less powerful Fiesta ST ahead of his rivals in more modern R2 Fiestas.

However, Matthew Cathcart is only four points behind and, if his current form continues and he uses his knowledge of Northern Irish asphalt to his advantage this weekend, he could well improve on his third place.

Twingo Renaultsport R1 & R2 Trophies UK
In the Twingo Renaultsport R1 & R2 Trophies UK – where a £3000 per-event prize fund is up for grabs – current BRC Junior Championship leader Garry Pearson was able to secure the R1 series’ title on the Jim Clark Rally – his local event.

Top R2 driver is now Chris Ingram, after Nick Allen crashed his Twingo heavily on the Swinton Crossroads jump in the closing stages of round four. The damage sustained means that the California-based driver will not be competing this weekend, as his car is still being repaired.

KEEP IN TUNE WITH THE ACTION!

For more information on the MSA British Rally Championship visit http://www.rallybrc.co.uk

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