Neil Howard Stages changes watersplash

Group National Editor

The Bolton le-Moors Car Club has made the infamous watersplash on the Neil Howard Stages shallower for the opening round of the Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship this weekend.

The Oulton Park-based event features the watersplash just in front of the Foggarty Moss Centre, to the right of Cascades on the race circuit.

Last year it caused damage to cars and some competitors believed the feature was too deep. The organising team have reduced the depth by three inches to combat the problem.

“I don’t want people blowing up engines because of a feature on one of the stages,” said Neil Howard Stages organiser Darren Spann.

“It’s a crowd entertainer and it’s something a bit different. It’s got to be a challenge, but something that doesn’t cause unnecessary damage. The intention when it went in was that the water didn’t reach the sumpguard, so that’s why we’re altering it.

“It needs to stay for the joy of the fans and entrants, but it needs to be safe for the cars and crews.”

Last year’s winner Kevin Procter will lead the cars away in his Ford Fiesta, while 2015 winner Stephen Simpson switches to a Ford Fiesta R5 from his Subaru Impreza S12B and is second away.

The first two-wheel-drive entry on the road is reigning champion crew Ian Woodhouse and Paul Rowland in their Class D1 Ford Escort Mk2. Mike English and Andy Robinson are likely to be frontrunners in Class C while 2015/16

Class A champions Joe Cunningham/Marc Fowler return. Chris Platt and Mick Robinson will
be the first Class B car away.

British Touring Car Championship race winners Paul O’Neill and Adam Morgan will go head-to-head on the event driving Paul Sheard Mazda MX-5s.

Tickets for the event, which features a huge firework display, will be available on the gate. For more information on the championship, visit its website.

Neil Howard Stages leading entries:
1 Kevin Procter/Derek Fawcett (Ford Fiesta) 
2 Steve Simpson/Patrick Walsh (Ford Fiesta R5) 
3 Graham Coffey/Victoria Myers (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) 
4 John Stone/Sarah Hughes (Ford Fiesta S2500) 
5 Ian Woodhouse/Paul Rowland (Ford Escort Mk2) 
6 Paul Swift/Cat Lund (Ford Escort) 
7 Chris West/Keith Hounslow (Peugeot 306 Maxi) 
8 Tom Preston/Carl Williamson (Skoda Fabia R5) 
9 Adrian Spencer/Mark Hewitt (Subaru Impreza WRC) 
10 David Turnbull/Simon John Rogers (Ford Fiesta S2000)

For more rally news, pick up a copy of this week’s Motorsport News

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