STRONG EN­TRY FORMS A AS­PHALT SERIES, COLE WILL DE­FEND TI­TLE

Fron­trun­ners temp ted back to re­freshed series for 2018

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - By Jack Benyon

The re­turn­ing MSA As­phalt Cham­pi­onship has al­ready re­ceived a strong en­try for its open­ing round at Epynt in March, with six-time cham­pion Damian Cole and fel­low fron­trun­ner Rob Tout among the lat­est driv­ers to sign up. The series had a hia­tus in 2017, and has re­turned with a new cal­en­dar, spon­sors and prize struc­ture to at­tract com­peti­tors.

While the series ex­pects many more com­peti­tors to sign up to on the day of the March 11 event, 42 of the com­peti­tors on the Tour of Epynt have sig­nalled in­tent to fight for the cham­pi­onship, and more ap­peal­ingly to the or­gan­is­ers, it has at­tracted a num­ber of lower-pow­ered front-wheel-drive cars as well as the usual WRC and Dar­rian en­tries like Damian Cole and Ashley Field.

Cole, who won the cham­pi­onship the last time it ran in 2016, re­turns with his Ford Fi­esta RS WRC, which he used to win that ti­tle.

The cal­en­dar was among the key rea­sons for the Welsh­man’s re­turn; new rounds in 2018 in­clude the Down Rally and Rally van Wervik.

“I think it was about time it had a re­fresh, and it’s good that there’s a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent ral­lies this year,” said Cole. “I like adding a round in Belgium, that gives it some­thing dif­fer­ent.”

The Fi­esta has been re­built ready for the sea­son, and Cole – along with new co-driver Jamie Ed­wards – will head to Belgium for the Boucles Clavieroises next month to warm-up for Belgium as­phalt and the sea­son ahead.

Fel­low Welsh­man Tout – who will be part­nered by Dy­lan James – will drive his Mit­subishi Lancer E10 pur­chased in 2016.

Cole took the 2016 As­phalt Cham­pi­onship

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