Monday, 26 March 2012

Sykes storms into championship lead after Bulldog rally success

Stourbridge’s Richard Sykes took his first rally win in three years on the Bulldog Challenge event last weekend, a performance which put him in the lead of the BRC Challenge rally championship.

The Welshpool-based event, which was round two of the championship, started with the Big Ray stage. Keen to get a good haul of points Sykes and co-driver Simon Taylor were immediately on the pace, setting third fastest time in their Bathams Brewery, G I Sykes Ltd, Boroughbridge Marina and Silverstone Tyres-supported Citroën C2 R2 Max.

Sykes maintained his position after the second stage in Dyfi forest before powering into the lead with a stunning time in stage three, Gartheiniog.

“We made a decent start to the event although we had small problems in both of the opening two stages,” said Sykes. “We got held up in the dust of the car in front on stage one which cost us around 10 seconds and then we beached the car on a corner in stage two. Fortunately some spectators got us going again so we didn’t lose too much time.”

“It was brilliant to be leading after the third stage, we didn’t know how we were getting on till we got back to service so it was pleasing to see we were fastest.”

The rally headed north for a pair of stages near Bala, Llangywer and Penllyn, with Sykes 30 seconds ahead of his nearest rival. Despite his lead Sykes continued to push hard, setting the fastest time on both stages to extend his lead by a further nine seconds.

There was no let up in the final Dyfnant stage either, Sykes taking his fourth consecutive stage win to complete a dominant performance.

“Even though we had a relatively comfortable lead I wanted to keep going as quick as I could on the final three stages and I was aiming to set as many fastest times as possible. I was delighted to be quickest on them all!”

“It was my fourth time contesting the Bulldog, the previous three occasions resulted in the car breaking so it is great both to finally finish the event and to win it.”

“The event was very tough, some of my main championship rivals didn’t make it to the finish so we didn’t get to have a battle with them although I think we had the pace to still do the job. For once we have had a great start to the season while other crews are having problems and we will continue working as hard as we can to try and take the championship win.”

Sykes now leads the BRC Challenge championship on 56 points ahead of James Watts on 46. The next championship round will take place in April with the Carlisle-based Pirelli Challenge rally.

Image courtesy Jakob Ebrey Motorsport Photography