Thursday 24 June 2010

Higgins headlines strong entry for Rally Isle of Man

Local hero Mark Higgins will after all bid for an incredible sixth Rally Isle of Man crown in early July after submitting a last minute entry for the event as the deadline loomed.

It had been feared that the driver, who last year took a record-breaking fifth win, would end a 20-year run of consecutive appearances on his home event, as he is not contesting the 2010 Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship.

The three time BRC champion, down to drive a Subaru Impreza, is however sure to face strong opposition as every single one of the top 15 drivers in this years title hunt are also on the list!

They are headed by Welsh rally legend Gwyndaf Evans, who has taken victory for the JRM Mitsubishi squad on the last two rounds, the Pirelli and Jim Clark events, and will be desperate to finally put his name on the ‘Manx’ trophy after coming close so many times down the years.

Reigning champion Keith Cronin won much acclaim as he fought a tumultuous battle with Higgins last year, and going one better this time in his Pirelli TEG Sport Subaru would also put the Cork drivers’ title defence back on track.

Underlining the quality, all of last years top six return, with young Alistair Fisher aiming to better a brilliant third place. The Revolution Wheels Mitsubishi driver has declared a win on this event as one of his main career ambitions, with the obvious family history associated with it through his late uncle Bertie.

Add in current points leader and fellow Northern Ireland countryman Jonny Greer (Mitsubishi) and Craig Breen in the screaming state-of-the-art Ford Fiesta Super 2000, Scotland’s ‘young guns’ Dave Weston junior and Euan Thorburn along with England’s Adam Gould in Subaru’s, as well as the island’s own challenge headed by Steve Quine (a brilliant fourth last year), and Nigel Cannell (both in Mitsubishi’s), and there’s the makings of an absolute cracker…and that’s only the International event!

The top contenders for the hugely popular Historic Rally include many leading drivers from the Dunlop/ British Championship. The spectator-friendly Ford Escort’s dominate, in the hands of Shrewsbury’s Will Onions, Omagh’s Ryan Barrett, rising local star Connor Corkill and former winner David Stokes to name but a few.

They’ll be joined by other former victors Adrian Kermode and Dessie Nutt in Porsche 911’s, and a returning Theo Bengry (Opel Ascona), who scored top six finishes on the International in the 1980’s.

The Challenge Rally category also features the main title contenders from the BRC Challenge. Entries are in from all the top three on the table; Callum Black (MG ZR), Brett Griffin (Peugeot 106) and Jonathan Cunningham (Ford Fiesta ST).

Jim Clark Challenge Rally winner Richard Archer (Vauxhall Corsa) however has a long record in the Manx lanes and will provide a stiff benchmark, as will rapid local driver Kevin Vondy (Corsa), who joins the fray for the first time. Many other local drivers are also entered for the non-Championship Challenge category.

In total just over 100 rally crews are set to tackle the islands famous closed roads stages on Friday 9th and Saturday 10th July, and the spread of quality looks set to make it an event not to be missed!

Monday 21 June 2010

Cristofaro fights back to triumph at Caerwent

Junior rally driver Nick Cristofaro, from Milford Haven, took his second victory of the season on the Mid-Summer Caerwent event last Sunday after battling back from a time-consuming problem early on in the day.

Cristofaro, fresh from his brilliant performance at the Chatsworth rallyshow where he beat one of the stars of the World Rally Championship, was keen to build on his victory in the TSH Stages event in May.

The rally got off to a disappointing start, an electrical problem meaning the 1.0 litre Nissan Micra was only running on three cylinders for ten miles of the opening stage. Cristofaro and co-driver Emma Morrison lost 21 seconds to the leading crew.

“It was a shock to have a problem so early in the event and a big disappointment to lose so much time,” said Cristofaro.

“Fortunately we were able to fix the car in service and so we were back with a full complement of cylinders for stage two.”

Over the next three stages Cristofaro clawed back time on the leaders and at the completion of the fourth stage he was just one second behind first place. On the fifth stage, despite suffering a puncture, he gained the lead, albeit by just one second.

There was no let up in Cristofaro’s pace over the final two stages of the event and his commitment was rewarded by taking another two fastest stages times, ending up with a victory margin of 12 seconds.

“I’m very happy with the result, especially after the problem on the first stage. I pushed very hard to get back the time we lost and I’m delighted that we were able to catch up and pass the leaders.”

“The result puts me in a good position in the Kick Energy/Acceleration TV Formula 1000 Junior championship, with dropped scores taken account of I’m in joint second place. I’ll be aiming to go one better than that over the remaining rounds.”

Cristofaro’s next Junior championship round is at the Brawdy Stages in September but as he turns 17 in August he is hoping that he can pass his driving test and compete in a forest rally before then if funds permit.

Mid-Wales Stages BHRC report

Nick Elliott and Dave Price made it three wins out of four this season as the Dunlop/ MSA British Historic Rally Championship made its final visit of the season to Wales on Sunday (20 June) for the Mid Wales Historic Stages. Rob Smith/Shaun O’Gorman challenged, but their Vauxhall Chevette collected three punctures and handed second in category three to the Escort Mk2 of Gareth Lloyd/Ryland James. Jeremy Easson/Alun Cook (Ford Escort Mk1) finally took a win in category two, having led the duelling Tim Jones and Andrew Siddall all day, while rivals David Stokes/Guy Weaver ended their rally in a ditch. In category one the Porsche 911 of Dessie Nutt and Geraldine McBride was briefly led by the Sunbeam Tiger of Jonathan Gale, until the Tiger became permanently beached on a bank.

Category 1: For the third successive rally dust was a prime factor, but it didn’t seem to bother Nutt/McBride, as the Porsche 911 pulled out an immediate 12 seconds lead over Gale/James Whittaker on the opening stage in Hafren South. “It was a lovely stage, but the dust wasn’t clearing,” said Nutt. “We had a stall which didn’t help,” Gale replied.

Graham Waite and Gill Cotton reported a quiet start in their Volvo Amazon, but were still third and well clear of fellow Amazon crew Dave Reynolds/Cliff Doe. “It was dying on me a bit out of hairpins so I had to keep dipping the clutch,” said Reynolds. Gwilym Roberts/Gwawr Hughes (Lotus Cortina) had a few brake problems, but Geoff Taylor/Steve Greenhill (Imp) had to stop in the stage after finding Steven Graham’s Lancia Fulvia on its roof in the middle of the stage. There was a stage in Hafren North and a repeat of the opener before returning to service. “I am almost fell off the road on stage two, it was very loose and I slid around a lot,” said Nutt. The result was Gale in the lead by one second, only to go out of the rally on stage three, with the Tiger beached on a bank. Nutt was left 39 seconds clear of new second man Waite, who really went for it over the remaining stages.

However, Nutt still had 28 seconds in hand at the finish. "That was very hard work all day,” said the defending champion. “I forgot to plug the intercom in on stage five so lost a bit, but the Pikes Peak stage four was awesome,” said Waite. Reynolds held on to third with Roberts fourth after a dramatic end to the day. “We had the brakes go and then a rear puncture on stage three, before breaking the gear lever at the first corner of stage four. So we used mole grips but forgot there was no gaiter when we went through the water splash,” said a soggy Roberts. Taylor’s Imp had been plagued with oil pressure problems and overheating in the dust all day. “The clutch seized and then the engine blew on stage four,” he reported of the car's demise.

Category 2: Easson and Cook had come close to winning on several occasions this year, but finally clinched victory this time around. Both Easson and Stokes were given a notional time in stage one after a stoppage, which left them tied with Andrew Siddall/Colin Thompson and seven seconds up on Tim Jones/Don James as Siddall and Jones contested class C3. “It was lucky for us, as when we returned to service we found a rear puncture,” said Easson. Jones had lost time after damaging the steering on his Escort Mk1. “I hit a bank and it took the steering wheel out of my hands, it’s hurt my wrist too,” said Jones.

With two stages before returning to service it was nip and tuck between Easson and Stokes, but on stage three Stokes was caught out in the dust. “I was too quick into a hairpin, I could see trees so went left through the tapes and hit reverse. I thought I had kept it straight but we tipped it on its side in a ditch,” he admitted.
Easson was left 27 seconds clear, but second placed Siddall only had four seconds in hand over Jones. “We had two good runs and got the time back,” said Jones. “We went off on stage three, I stayed on the brakes too long and went up a bank,” Siddall replied.

Peter Smith/Russ Langthorne (Porsche 911) worked its way past Chris Browne/Liz Jordan (Escort Mk1) for fourth. “We peeled the front back a bit on the bumps,” said Smith. “I hit something on stage three and it affected the handling,” Browne added. Jones' pressure gave him second place from stage four and he even took time out of Easson on the last stage to clinch second and C3 honours over Siddall. “That was a really hard rally,” said Easson at the finish. “It was no holds barred and we tried our hardest,” Siddall explained. “We just went for consistency and got Andrew, but my wrist was really beginning to hurt,” Jones concluded. C5 winner Smith retained fourth relatively unscathed, but as Browne slipped back to settle in 11th and second behind Easson in C5, Vince Bristow/Tim Sayer brought their Escort Mk1 into fifth from stage four. “We had an oil leak from the gearbox early on and it got onto the clutch. Towards the end it was slipping badly," said the giant-killing class C2 winners.

Rex Ireland/Adrian Scadding were sixth and second in C2, while Jeremy Wells/Pete Phillips broke away from Dave Kirby/Sean Kennedy (class C2 Escort) to secure seventh and third in C3. Fellow C3 crews Richard Morgan/Tim Madeley (Porsche 914) and Richard/Pat Egger (Escort Mk1) completed the top ten. Peter McDowell/Max Utting (Porsche 911) collected second in C4 and there was even a starter in C1 this time, but the BHRC debut of Steve and Tony Graham lasted only half a stage before their Lancia Fulvia rolled. The maiden outing for Terry Cree and Richard Shores in their eagerly awaited BMW 2002 netted them fourth in C3.

Category 3: There was a dramatic start to the day, which underlined the decision of Elliott and Price to proceed with caution. Will Onions and Dave Williams were off at the flying finish on the opening stage with their Escort Mk2 and the next four crews were give a notional time. “We were sideways for about 100 yards on the approach and then hit a bank head on. A bit too enthusiastic,” said Onions. It was a lucky break though for Smith/ O’Gorman. “When we got into service we realised we had a rear puncture,” said the Chevette driver. Onions had still set a time, albeit 10s slower than Elliott. Roger Kilty and Lynette Banks were the first to get a clean run after the restart, but had clutch problems.

Elliott was quickest through stage two in Hafren North and the re-run of the opener in Hafren South to reach service 56s clear of Smith. “We were right on the pace, but had a near over the edge moment on stage two so held back a bit after that,” said Elliott. Connor Corkill/Rob Fagg (Escort Mk2) had gone into second place on stage two, only to roll on the third. “The corner went on a bit longer than I expected, we caught a bank and was over. We then had to stop again as it had punctured a rear tyre,” said Corkill.

Although second, Smith hadn’t had an easy run either. “We caught Corkill’s dust and it was losing gears and oil on stage three,” said Smith. Tim Pearcey/Craig Drew had slotted into fourth and despite a spin on stage three they held their place, but had been usurped by Gareth Lloyd/Ryland James (Escort Mk2). “The brake pedal went hard at a hairpin on stage two, but then it cleared again,” explained Lloyd. Elliott was quickest on all but the last stage to take a comfortable victory, his third out of four this season. “I had time in hand so eased a little but stayed cautious,” he said. Lloyd made it into second on stage four, after Smith had another puncture. “It was another rear and then only half a mile into the last stage we had a third puncture but just kept going,” he said after retaining third in category three and class D4 victory.

“I’m exhausted, it seems like I was in the car for weeks,” said Pearcey after coming home in an encouraging fourth, while in fifth Kilty was delighted to record his best ever finish. Alan Walker/Jez Rogers (Escort Mk2) survived a last stage scare to hold onto sixth. “We fell off on a downhill righthander,” said Walker. Phil and Mick Squires edged away from Simon Tysoe/Cliff Simmons to consolidate seventh, while Dick Slaughter/Geoff Dearing took ninth in their first outing since rolling in Kielder. “The clutch was playing up a bit, but we weren’t looking for heroics,” said Slaughter.

Class D3 winners Richard Lane and Frank Richer completed the top ten in their Escort Mk2 after bending the steering on the second stage. Jakob Scannell and Andrew Smith (Escort Mk2) were the only starters in D2 and despite losing the brakes on stage three were there at the finish. In D3 David Lloyd-Roberts/Dei Jones (Escort Mk2) followed Lane, with Wayne Bonser/Richard Aston third after Stephen Richards and Ian Withecombe rolled their Escort on the opening stage.

Mid-Wales Stages moves to March for 2011

The Rally Marketing Mid Wales Stages will move earlier in the season for 2011 following news that the event organisers from Newtown and District Automobile Club will run the popular event on Sunday 6 March 2011.

The historic element of the rally will now form the opening round of the 2011 Dunlop/ MSA British Historic Rally Championship.

The Mid Wales Stages will retain a similar format for its new date, with scrutineering and documentation on Saturday 5 March followed by the rally on Sunday 6 March. Once again, the rally will be based at Theatr Hafren in Newtown and will take in classic stages of the Hafren and Myherin complexes.

"The current date for the rally in June comes at such a busy time for everyone, and this change moves us away from that crowded part of the calendar," said event clerk of the course Chris Tomley. "It is a better time of year for lots of people, including the marshals. It also gives us the opportunity to grow the modern entry. We will keep the event to a similar format, with a compact route and regular visits to the service area."

The organisers of the MSA British Historic Rally Championship are delighted with the date change. "We really do welcome this change," said championship co-ordinator Simon Marks. "This is just what our calendar needed. It takes the pressure out of the middle of the season and spreads the championship nicely over seven months."

Wednesday 16 June 2010

BHRC Round 4 Preview

The 2010 Dunlop/ MSA British Historic Rally Championship continues on Sunday (20 June) with round four, the Rally Marketing Mid Wales Historic Stages.
Despite coming at the busiest time of the calendar, a strong field will tackle the classic stages of Hafren and Myherin as used on Wales Rally GB in November. The rally also marks the end of the first batch of gravel rallies in the BHRC, with three asphalt events coming next through the summer months.

Category 1: Running first on the road will be the older cars in category one (pre '68) and three cars from the category are currently at the top of the overall BHRC title race. With a seven-point lead going into round four of eight, the Sunbeam Tiger of Jonathan Gale and James Whitaker is enjoying a great season and another strong result on Sunday will really underline their status of title favourites. But there is a long way to go yet and the result of round three, the Severn Valley Stages, showed that Dessie Nutt and Geraldine McBride (Porsche 911) are really taking the fight to the rumbling Tiger. However, it is not just about the two sports cars as the remarkable Volvo Amazon of Graham Waite and Gill Cotton currently lies between Gale and Nutt in the points' table after some tremendous performances.

Ranged against Waite in class B4 is the Lotus Cortina of Gwilym Roberts/Gwawr Hughes and the Volvo Amazon of Dave Reynolds/Cliff Doe. Among the smaller engined cars in category one, the Sunbeam Imp Sport of Geoff Taylor/Steve Greenhill is likely to set the pace and trouble some of the more powerful cars in the process.

Category 2: Category two, for the post-historic cars, is sure to be a re-match in the season-long contest between old rivals David Stokes and Jeremy Easson in their Escort Mk1s. Both are supremely experienced and it was Stokes, co-driven by Guy Weaver, who won the Severn Valley to make up for two non-finishes on the earlier events. Easson, meanwhile, is partnered by Alun Cook and will be pushing Stokes every inch of the way in what will surely be another excellent sporting contest. Other leading class C5 cars include the Escort Mk1 of Chris Browne/Liz Jordan.

A welcome return to UK historic rallying will be made by the Lancia Stratos of Steve Perez and Paul Spooner, which becomes quicker and more reliable with every event. Class C4 rivals to Perez include Peter Smith and Russ Langthorne in their Porsche 911RS, category two winners in Kielder.

Class C3, for the Pinto-powered Escort Mk1s, is one of the most competitive in the championship and is headed by Tim Jones/Don James, although they start the event one point behind Andrew Siddall/Captain Thompson in the championship battle.

In C2, the remarkable pace of the Escort Mk1 of Vince Bristow/Alan Sayer will set a formidable standard, with opposition from the similar cars of David Kirby/Sean Kennedy, Nigel Godden/Ian Orford and Gary Orton/Mike Morgan.

Category 3: The contest for category three will spearhead the event and it is the Mk2 Escort of Nick Elliott and Dave Price that heads the field away. They came back strongly from a big accident in Kielder to win the Severn Valley and they will surely set the pace again on Sunday.

Taking the battle to Elliott will be round two winners Will Onions and Dave Williams, while chasing hard will be Connor Corkill and Rob Fagg, who get quicker and quicker with every event. More very quick Escorts will be campaigned by Gareth Lloyd/Ryland James, Tim Pearcey/Craig Drew and Roger Kilty/Lynette Banks, while the class D4 Vauxhall Chevette of Rob Smith/Shaun O'Gorman will be right up with the best of the Escorts.

Richard Lane and Frank Richer currently dominate Class D3 during a superb season in their Pinto-powered Escort Mk2. Devon crew Stephen Richards/Ian Withecombe and Wayne Bonser/Richard Aston will be chasing, but the pace of Lane will make him very difficult to beat unless he has a problem. However, rallying returnee Shawn Rayner, partnered by Graham Dear, could be a darkhorse contender in D3 in the Escort Mk2 he last rallied more than a decade ago.

The Rally Marketing Mid Wales Historic Stages is organised by Newtown and District Automobile Club Ltd. For more details about the event, please visit the website at:

Sunday 13 June 2010

Kirvan maintains championship position on Dukeries rally

Burton Pidsea’s Becky Kirvan successfully completed the Dukeries rally last weekend claiming seventh in class. In doing so she maintained both her fourth position in the BTRDA Rally First 1.4 championship and the lead of the lady driver championship.

The event, Kirvan’s third since making a comeback to rallying this year, was held on gravel tracks in Nottinghamshire including those in the well known Sherwood Pines forest.

With usual co-driver Sherryn Roberts not available for the event Kirvan had to get used to someone new in the passenger seat of the Rally4Real Nissan Micra, with Rob Walters reading the notes on this occasion. The pairing made a steady start on the opening two tests, Blidworth and Thieves Wood. Three longer stages followed in Sherwood Pines and Portland and Kirvan arrived at the midway service halt in eighth place in the RF1.4 class.

"I took the opening two stages fairly cautiously but tried to push a bit harder after that," said Kirvan.

"Unfortunately I think I pushed a bit too hard as we had several moments where I carried too much speed into corners and that, combined with the surface being looser than I expected, resulted in me taking a bad line which lost me time. The car also mounted a bank on a couple of occasions, apologies to any spectators I may have scared!"

New tyres were fitted to the Peart Auto Services-backed Micra at service and Kirvan moderated her enthusiasm on the corners to be much tidier on the afternoon stages which resulted in her moving up to seventh at the rally finish.

"At the start we were on the same tyres that we used on the previous event so they were pretty worn. The new tyres certainly made a difference and with me taking tidier lines around the corners our times improved."

"The Rally4Real Micra performed brilliantly once again, we had no problems at all. I enjoyed the stages and it’s good to have got another finish under my belt."

Kirvan will be competing again on the next RF1.4 championship round, the Quinton Stages rally in July. Please visit to keep up to date with all the latest news and photos.

Image courtesy Simon Clarke Photography

Dukeries driveshaft disappointment for Wright

Bentham rally driver David Wright suffered a disappointing Dukeries rally last weekend when a broken driveshaft ended his hopes of a good result.

The event, held on gravel forestry tracks in Nottinghamshire, kicked off with the Blidworth stage. Wright and co-driver Michael Wilkinson made a good start in their GPM Mitsubishi Evo 9 claiming fifth overall and first in class. By the end of the second stage they had moved up to fourth place after another good time.

Disaster struck on the third stage though when part way through the Sherwood Pines forest test Wright slid up a bank at a corner with the rear of the car leaving the ground. Although they got off the bank the car was making ominous noises and it was decided to retire rather than risk further damage.

“We did well on the opening two stages and I was ready to push for third place in the Sherwood and Clipstone stages but it wasn’t to be,” said Wright.

“We had a look at the rear of the car as the noise sounded like a broken driveshaft. There was no visible damage so we reckoned the driveshaft had broken inside the diff. We could’ve struggled to the end of the stage but the time loss would mean there was no chance of a good result so we decided to retire.”

“It’s a very disappointing result, I think my hopes of retaining the BTRDA championship title are over now, we need overall wins to have a chance and our class of car does not have the pace of the World Rally cars that are winning the events.”

“I’m going to decide in the next couple of weeks whether to continue with the championship or to do some other events instead. We’re working on a new car at the moment so it would be good to get that out on some rallies before the end of the year. Thanks to Drenth, Proflex, Kumho Tyres and Grove Hill Garage for their support.”

Wright presently lies in seventh place in the BTRDA championship standings.

Image courtesy Simon Clarke Photography

Wednesday 9 June 2010

Junior rally driver Nick beats World Rally star!

Milford Haven rally driver Nick Cristofaro, 16, enjoyed a very successful weekend at the Chatsworth Rally Show which cumulated in him beating one of the stars of the World Rally Championship.

Cristofaro, who is competing in the Junior 1000 rally championship for drivers aged 14-17, was specially selected to take part in the popular Rally Show event which attracts many thousands of spectators.

After doing several demonstration runs in his Nissan Micra rally on the event’s rally stage Cristofaro took part in a competition which saw him do a timed run against World Rally Championship driver Henning Solberg, British National Champion Steve Perez and leading British Rally Championship contender Craig Breen, all of whom were in Micras. Amazingly Cristofaro set the joint fastest time with Breen and beat the times of Solberg and Perez.

Also taking part in the weekend’s activities were the M-Sport World Rally team. Their driver, Jari-Matti Latvala, set a time in the Ford Focus he usually uses in the World Rally Championship which was only nine seconds ahead of Cristofaro in his 1.0 litre Micra.

Cristofaro’s weekend was rounded of with rides in both the Breen’s Fiesta S2000 rally car and Perez’s Focus WRC.

“I was delighted to beat driver’s of the calibre of Henning Solberg and Steve Perez,” said Cristofaro. “I think they’re used to a lot more power than I am! Steve sat in with me when I did my run, he sponsors the Junior 1000 championship via his Kick Energy brand so it was good to be able to show him that his support is helping to produce competitive junior drivers.”

“Having the passenger rides in the Fiesta and Focus was brilliant too. My aim is to be driving those kind of cars in a few years so it was great to get some experience of their speed and handling.”

“I’d like to say thanks to Steve Perez for his support of both the weekend and the Junior championship and also for the rides in the Kick Energy-backed cars.”

Cristofaro returns to the Junior 1000 championship on June 20th with the Midsummer Caerwent Rally.

Route for 2010 Roger Albert Clark rally revealed

The route for this year's Roger Albert Clark Rally has been announced, with more stage miles and longer stages being the key features of the 26-29 November event.

The provisional route includes two 14-mile stages in Ae and two 12-miles stages in Newcastleton, which rally manager Colin Heppenstall says is in response to requests from competitors for longer stages.

"Friday evening in Dalby will be a great start to the event, but it is Sunday that will be the make or break day with 71 stage miles and four long stages. It is a long, hard day," said Heppenstall.

"Competitors wanted longer stages and so we've done just that. The whole plan of the event is to give value for money. The total stage mileage is 170, which is 20 more than last year and I'm really pleased with the route we've put together.

"It is important to refresh the route every year and we've not done the Monday stages north of Kielder Water for six years," said Heppenstall. " I think it is going to be a very good year."

Support events will include a night event on Friday, the Kall Kwik Clubmans Rally on Friday and Saturday, the Clubmans Rally over the Scottish stages on Sunday and the Kielder Challenge on Monday. More details of the support events will be announced in due course.

Tuesday 8 June 2010

Sykes on the pace on Jim Clark International Rally

Stourbridge rally driver Richard Sykes was well on the pace on the recent Jim Clark International Rally until engine problems ultimately forced him out of the event.

The rally, round three of the Citröen Racing Trophy, took place on closed public roads in Berwickshire and the mix of fast flowing roads and tight and tricky lanes provided a stern challenge for all the competitors.

The event got underway on Friday evening with a short spectator-packed stage around the streets of Duns. Sykes and co-driver Simon Taylor made a good start in their Dulux Trade Paints, G I Sykes and Boroughbridge Marina backed Citröen C2 R2 Max, setting third quickest time in the Trophy.

The long 15 miles of the Abbey stage followed, a notoriously difficult stage which has seen many a crew crash out. Sykes blitzed the opposition setting the fastest time of the Citröen crews. Another quick time on the following Polwarth stage saw Sykes complete the opening loop of stages in first place in the Citröen Racing Trophy.

"I was extremely happy to be leading the Citröens, it was my first time driving the C2 on tarmac," said Sykes.

"All our rivals have competed on asphalt before so, although I’d pushed as hard as I could from the start, I was quite surprised to be at the head of the field."

A repeat loop of the opening three stages followed. Sykes maintained his lead on the second run through Duns but a large time loss on Abbey dropped him to third.

"We were over a minute slower on the second run through Abbey which was disappointing. The stage was run in darkness and I could not see well enough to push as hard as I did on the first run. The spotlights were a little too high and I was also getting dazzled by the gear shiftlight on the dashboard. I had to short shift to avoid the lights which meant we weren’t going as fast as we could."

"We cured the shiftlight problem by taping over it at the end of the stage but the damage had been done and the lost time meant we were only fourth fastest Citröen in the stage."

Day one ended with a second run through Polwarth and Sykes maintained his third place going in to the overnight halt.

The second day kicked off with the 11 miles of the Wedderburn stage. Determined to try and make time up on his rivals Sykes charged through the stage but an off after a series of crests saw more time lost.

"We were flying down a straight over a series of crests and troughs, the car was flat in fifth gear doing around 115mph. There was a corner at the end of the straight and as we braked the wheels locked up on some shiny tarmac and we ended up in a field. We lost around 15 seconds getting back on the road."

Despite the off Sykes was still in third in the Citröen Racing Trophy going into stage 8, Edrom, but it was here that his rally came to an unfortunate end.

"Part way through the stage the engine felt as though it was running on two or three cylinders and it was well down on power. We limped to the end of the stage and managed to get back to service although the engine was overheating. The service guys changed everything they could but it was in vain. We subsequently found that the head gasket had gone."

"It’s gutting to retire again but it’s brilliant that we showed we had the pace to beat our rivals early on. We just need a good troublefree event now and I’m confident we could get a top result."

Sykes will next be in action on round 4 of the Citröen Racing Trophy, the Rally Isle of Man, which takes place on July 9/10. This event uses the notoriously treacherous closed public roads of the island with crews usually having to battle very changeable weather conditions too.

Please visit for all the latest news and pictures.

Image courtesy Jakob Ebrey Photography

Sunday 6 June 2010

Kirvan confident ahead of Dukeries debut

Burton Pidsea rally driver Becky Kirvan will continue her 2010 season next weekend when she contests the Dukeries rally in Nottinghamshire.

Kirvan will once again use the Rally4Real Nissan Micra hire car backed by Peart Auto Services having already used the car to successfully complete the two events she has already contested this year. With regular co-driver Sherryn Roberts not available for the event Kirvan will be joined by Rob Walters.

Presently lying in fourth place in the Rally First 1.4 championship Kirvan is keen to get another good result in the Nottinghamshire forests.

"We’ve made a good start to the year and I’m happy with the results so far," said Kirvan.

"I’ve not competed on the Dukeries rally before although I did the Robin Hood event in 2007 which uses a lot of the same tracks so I have a little bit of experience of the stages."

"Our little Micra has been busy since our last outing, it was hired by another crew to do the Jim Clark rally and they got a brilliant second in class so hopefully we can show a similar amount of pace on the Dukeries and score a decent amount of championship points, I'm confident we can get a good finish."

The rally is round four of the Rally First championship and it will be fought over 44 miles of gravel tracks in the Sherwood forest area.

For all the latest news and pictures please visit

Wright to continue title defence on Dukeries rally

Rally driver David Wright will resume his BTRDA title defence next weekend when he competes on round five of the championship, the Dukeries rally.

After a disappointing start to the year with an opening event retirement Wright and co-driver Michael Wilkinson have had a good run of results, winning their class on the last three rounds and lying fourth overall in the championship race.

Having finished fourth on last year’s Dukeries Wright is targeting a podium finish to keep his hopes of defending his 2009 title alive. He will use his usual GPM Mitsubishi Evo 9 on the event with support from Drenth, Proflex, Grove Hill Garage and Kumho Tyres.

“We’ve had a good season so far and after the disappointment of the first round retirement I’ve been pleased with getting the class wins and also finishing third overall on the last two rounds,” said Wright.

“It’s going to be tough to compete with the World Rally Cars as usual but we’ll push hard and try and get as high up the leaderboard as we can, another podium finish would be great.”

“The car is pretty much the same specification as the last round in Wales so hopefully we’ll have a reliable run.”

The rally takes place in the Sherwood forest area of Nottinghamshire with the crews battling it out over 44 miles of gravel tracks.