THIRSK driver Chris Wise has confirmed he will be defending his crown when Darlington and District Motor Club stage the Jack Frost Stages Rally at Croft Circuit on Sunday, January 19.

More than 50 crews have confirmed their participation in the event, which will see around 40 stage miles of action on the tarmac of the North-East's only permanent racetrack.

Wise spent almost a year on the sidelines after winning last January's rally, but after wheeling out his iconic MG Metro 6R4 on the recent Christmas Stages Rally, the Yorkshireman has confirmed his entry for Croft.

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Wise claimed a battling second place on the Christmas Stages, despite having to drive with a stand-in co-driver, Mick Johnson, because his usual partner, Tracey Taylor-West, was nursing a back injury.

Whether or not Taylor-West is fit, Wise will be gunning for a victory to add to his successes in 2007 and 2008, as well as last year's triumph.

Peter Smith was another driver to impress on the Christmas Stages, and having claimed a top-ten finish as he debuted his MG Metro 6R4, he could well be challenging higher up the order this time out.

Tomorrow (Wednesday, January 8) is the official closing date for entries, but any late entries will be accommodated until the field is full.

The entry fee is £215, and the event will again comprise a qualifying round of the AS Performance North of England Tarmacadam Championship 2014, Fuchs Titan Race ANCC Stage Rally Championship 2014 and the SG Petch ANECCC Stage Rally Championship 2014.

Scrutineering and documentation will take place from 6am on January 19, with the first car starting at 9.15am.