Stourbridge rally driver Richard Sykes suffered a disappointing debut event in his Citröen C2 R2 Max last Saturday when engine problems forced him into retirement.
Sykes and co-driver Simon Taylor were contesting the Bulldog International Rally of North Wales, the opening round of both the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship and the Citröen Racing Trophy.
The rally got off to a tough start with two stages in the Llanurig area totalling 33 miles. Sykes successfully completed both stages in his Dulux Trade Paints, G I Sykes and Boroughbridge Marina backed car, taking third place in the Citröen Racing Trophy behind two ultra quick Irish crews.
"We didn’t push too much early on, it was our first time driving the new car competitively and it took a few miles to learn the feel of the car," said Sykes.
"I was reasonably pleased to be third in the Citröen Racing Trophy, especially as I was beating my rivals from the Suzuki Swift championship last year and one of the regular C2 competitors."
After a service halt in Welshpool the crews returned to Llanurig for a repeat of the opening two stages. Sykes and Taylor had a excellent second run gaining more confidence in the new car and maintaining third in the Citröens.
The event then moved to the forests around Corris for the remainder of the eight competitive stages. They remained third Citröen in the Big Ray stage but Sykes and Taylor’s rally came to a premature end on the next stage in Dyfi forest.
"The engine threw its oil out in the stage which meant instant retirement for us. I’m not sure exactly what caused it, the digital dash in the car had stopped working so we weren’t able to monitor oil pressure and temperature."
"It’s massively disappointing not to finish the event, I had hoped that the new car would be reliable after the problems we had last year with the Swift but sadly it was not to be."
"I am happy that we were pretty much on the pace in the Citröen Racing Trophy though, we were in third place when we retired which I think is pretty good considering it was our first event in the car and it gives us a base to work on.”
“I am just over a second a mile off the lead so we will work hard for the next event, it is clear I need to step up the game to compete with the new Irish lads. Hopefully we can have a reliable car on the next round and get a decent finish."
Sykes and Taylor will next be in action on the Pirelli rally at the end of April, round two of both the British Rally Championship and Citröen Racing Trophy.
For more information please visit www.gisykes.co.uk.