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brandshatch17-3It was a glorious winters day down at Brands Hatch, with crisp and cold conditions all day. Of the top 10 seeded crews only 4 made the finish, with the attrition rate high among the fancied crews. At the end of 8 hard fought stages Paul Swift & Pat Walsh (Escort MkII) took victory by 8 seconds from Martin Hodgson & Tony Jones (Escort MkII), with Nigel Mummery & Fiona Scarrett (Focus WRC) just over a minute further back. 2016 winners Chris West & Harry Brown had been fastest through the first stage but destroyed the front left corner of their 306 Maxi on an obscured concrete block, early in stage 2.

Swift was fastest through stage 2 with Hodgson fastest in 3 and the pair shared stage 4. This left Swift with a 7 second lead at the lunch break but he was pleased to still be running after a near miss from a fellow competitor at a merge on stage 3. Swift extended his lead with fastest times on stages 5 & 6 before sharing the stage 7 win with Hodgson. With the lead up to 13 seconds Swift lost 5 seconds on the final stage to hold off a final charge from Hodgson, taking his maiden overall rally win.

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