Thursday, 23 August 2012

Sykes storms to championship win after double Ulster success

Stourbridge’s Richard Sykes is celebrating after victory in both BRC Challenge Championship rounds last weekend in Ulster gave him an unassailable lead in the championship standings with one round to go.

The first event of the weekend got off to a very close start, Sykes faster than championship rival Simon Moore by just 0.2 seconds after the bumpy and tight rollercoaster roads of the Torr Head stage. Moore edged ahead after stage two but a good tyre choice on the third stage saw Sykes regain the lead in his Bathams Brewery, G I Sykes Ltd, Boroughbridge Marina and Silverstone Tyres-supported Citroën C2 R2 Max.

Stage four was a repeat of the Torr Head stage but heavy rain and darkness meant that conditions would be very difficult for the crews. Moore rolled his Clio out of the event part way through the stage while Sykes had a clear run through both Torr Head and the final Glen Dun stage to win the event by 30 seconds.

“We had a great battle with Simon on the first three stages and we were pushing very hard,” said Sykes. “The rain became very heavy prior to stage four so I changed the tyres from cut slicks to intermediates, conditions were far too treacherous for slicks.”

“I was going absolutely flat out in the dark but then we saw Simon’s car upside down. We saw the crew were ok but backed off a little for safety and managed to get through the really technical stages safely in the terrible weather to give us the win.”

With Moore’s car too badly damaged to take part in the second Challenge event Sykes only needed to finish third to take the BRC Challenge title but he decided to aim for another win.

After two stages he had built up a massive 29 second lead but despite that he continued to charge through the stages, setting fastest time on every one to win by 54 seconds.

“I’m absolutely over the moon to have won the championship, it was my target for 2012 and to have achieved it with one round still to go is fantastic. The win is all down to my two Simons – Simon Taylor, a fabulous co-driver of the highest quality and Simon Hawthorne who has made the car reliable and given us a brilliant set up. With Martin Billings on-event support it’s been a real team effort and the championship makes all the work we’ve put in worthwhile. Thanks also to all my sponsors for their invaluable support.”

Sykes will contest the final BRC Challenge round in Yorkshire next month and will be aiming to make it four wins in the season. His year will then be rounded off by taking part in the Mull Rally in October.

Image courtesy Jakob Ebrey