Monday 9 December 2013

Brown ends rally season on a Manx high

Rochdale rally driver Steve Brown rounded off his season with a fine performance on the Pokerstars rally on the Isle of Man last month. He finished 16th overall and first in class in his 1300cc Nissan Micra.

From a start position of 30 Brown made good progress on the opening day of the event to lie in 25th overall and 4th in class at the overnight halt. A storming performance in the Mintex Racing, Fuchs Titan Race, 710 Oil's, PIAA, Sabelt UK and Six 80 Ltd Aviation Asset Management-backed Micra on day two saw him take the class win as well as moving up to 16th on the overall leaderboard.

“After a strong run on the Rally Isle of Man in September I decided to return to the island for the Pokerstars,” said Brown. “It’s a fantastic place for rallying, the stages are a great challenge and to come away with a class win rounded off the season perfectly.”

“We’ve had a mixed year as far as the MSA Tarmac championship goes but we had two good results on the Tour of Epynt and the Jim Clark National so I’m happy with that. The two non-championship Isle of Man events went very well and I’m delighted with the results we achieved on them.”

“It has been a good learning year and hopefully we can put the experience to good use next season. Thank you to all my sponsors for their support.”

Brown will have a new Micra ready for 2014 but he has yet to finalise his plans for competing.

“I think I’ll be doing a few of the Tarmac championship rounds in the new car but the first few events will be used to develop the car.”

“I will be keeping the existing Micra too and that will be rebuilt over the winter. If the budget allows I hope to return to the Isle of Man with it to try and further improve my times there.”

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Thursday 21 November 2013

Sykes storms to second in class on Rally GB National

Stourbridge’s Richard Sykes ended his rally season in fine style when he followed in the wheel tracks of the best drivers in the world to take second in class on the Rally GB National event after three tough days of competition.

The rally used the same stages as Britain’s World Rally Championship round so it was a unique opportunity to compare times with the 2013 World Rally Champion.

Day 1 saw Sykes and co-driver Jonathan Boucard tackle the Hafren, Myherin and Sweet Lamb stages and a brilliant performance meant he led his class at going into the second day in his Bathams Brewery, Boroughbridge Marina, Silverstone Tyres and G I Sykes Ltd-supported Citroën C2 R2 Max.

“The opening day went really well, we had no problems and set some great times to head the class although we were only 7 seconds ahead of Phil McVay in second,” said Sykes. “It was my first time with Jonathan in the co-driver’s seat but we quickly gelled. Emma Morrison, who sat with me on the last two BRC Challenge events, was co-driving for Phil which was slightly surreal – we had gone from being a team to rivals!”

The battle between Sykes and McVay continued on day two with McVay taking the lead as Sykes hit a bale on a chicane, damaging the side of his car and losing a few seconds. More time was lost in the Kimble Park stage. Sykes had been due to start the stage in daylight and had not fitted spotlights but delays on the rally meant he did the stage in the dark and was hampered by only having the normal car headlights.

“We did a DVD recce of the stages and the chicanes were not built when the DVD was produced so we didn’t know how tight they were. The first one was really tight and it caught me out. The rear side window got smashed and the bodywork bent but we were able to carry on although the time loss meant Phil, who was going really well, passed us for the lead.”

“Having to do Kimble Park on the standard lights lost us around 11 seconds in just over a mile as it was a tricky tight very dark stage, the type you only loose a rally on not win one.”

A fine performance on day three meant that Sykes ended up just 8.7 seconds behind McVay at the event finish and he also finished 13th overall.

“The final day was really good, we had a clear run and were pushing hard to keep the pressure on the class leader. It’s a little disappointing that we couldn’t do enough to get the class win, we paid a heavy price for those 11 seconds lost in Kimble Park. I am more than happy with second though and I’m delighted with 13th overall out of 55 finishers considering we were competing against 300bhp 4 wheel drive cars in our little 170bhp 2 wheel drive C2.”

"Jonathan did an excellent job and by the third day we were well on it. The event has left us totally elated and I can’t wait for next year now.”

“I’m hoping to contest the BRC Challenge again in 2014 but I may have a new car. The current one will be for sale shortly, if it sells then we’ll be out in something different next year. Thank you to all my sponsors for their support this year.”

Image courtesy Dave Johnson

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Sykes aiming to be back on track in Yorkshire

Stourbridge rally driver Richard Sykes is aiming to put the misfortune he experienced on his last event behind him when he contests the Trackrod Challenge rally in Yorkshire next weekend, the latest round of the BRC Challenge championship.
Sykes and co-driver Simon Taylor crashed out of the Ulster Challenge rally in dramatic style last month in their Bathams Brewery, Boroughbridge Marina, Silverstone Tyres and G I Sykes Ltd-supported Citrn C2 R2 Max. Injuries sustained in the crash have meant that Taylor is unable to compete with Sykes on the Trackrod.
“Unfortunately Simon received a back injury in the crash so he has been advised not to compete,” said Sykes. “I have drafted in Emma Morrison who co-drove for my championship rival Simon Moore last year. We have competed together before and she is very organised and motivated and no doubt looking forward to a competitive run.”
“It is still mathematically possible for us to retain our BRC Challenge title but we’re relying on other drivers retiring which is unlikely to happen. We’ll be trying our best to win both in Yorkshire and in the final round in Bournemouth though.”
“Our team of Simon Hawthorne and Martin Billings have worked tirelessly repairing the car after Ulster and, with help from Charles Hurst, they’ve done a fantastic job and it looks as good as new.”
“The Yorkshire stages have a lot of long straights which will be a disadvantage for us but I’ll be trying as hard as I can to get the win. We do two night stages on Friday which will be a real challenge and 100% concentration will be needed to get a good result. I won the event in 2007 and 2008 but since then it’s been cruel to us so we need to break that run of bad luck.”
As well as the Friday night stages the BRC Challenge crews will contest three stages in the classic rallying territory of North Yorkshire on Saturday morning.

Monday 23 September 2013

Rodgers aiming to end rally season on a high

Rally driver Tim Rodgers will contest his third and final event of the year next weekend when he contests the Trackrod Challenge rally in Yorkshire.
The event is a round of the BRC Challenge championship and Rodgers is hoping to take on the championship leaders on what is his home event, with the aim being a top three finish.
Rodgers, from Burton upon Stather, was in second place on his last event, the Scottish Challenge rally, in June. Sadly he put his Ford Fiesta ST off the road one mile from the end of the event when he had to avoid a crew who had rolled their car and partially blocked the stage.
"The ending of our Scottish Challenge rally was hard to take," said Rodgers. "We had been doing really well, beating all but one of the regular championship crews and we were all set for a brilliant result. There was nothing I could do though, I had a choice of hitting the car that had rolled or trying to avoid it by driving into a ditch at the side of the road. Unfortunately the car hit a log in the ditch and our rally was over."
"I like the Yorkshire stages and I'm confident we will have the pace to be near the top of the leaderboard.  I'll be happy if we can get a top three finish, that will go some way to making up for the disappointment of the Scottish."
The rally starts on Friday evening with two stages in the dark. The crews will do a further three stages on Saturday morning with the event finishing early in the afternoon.

Thursday 19 September 2013

Class podium for Brown on Manx Internatio​nal rally

Rochdale rally driver Steve Brown achieved an excellent result on last week’s Manx International rally when he finished third in class and 25th overall in his Mintex Racing, Fuchs Titan Race, 710 Oil's, PIAA and Sabelt UK-backed Nissan Micra 1300.
The rally started on Thursday night with six stages in atrocious conditions on the Isle of Man’s closed public roads. Heavy rain meant the roads were extremely slippery and the crews were not helped by thick mist on many of the stages. Despite the weather Brown guided the Micra to 4th in class and 39th overall at the overnight halt.
Day two had a punishing schedule of 13 stages including two runs of the hugely popular stage through the centre of Castletown. With conditions much improved from day one Brown put in a strong performance to move up to third in class and 31st overall.
The event concluded with 8 stages on Saturday with the final stage being the very challenging 13 mile “Classic” stage which saw the crews tackle the tricky Druidale road in the mountains before heading down into Douglas and finishing outside the TT grandstand. Brown maintained his third in class position and gained a further 6 places on the overall leaderboard to finish 25th.
“It was my second time competing on the event and once again it was a brilliant rally to be part of,” said Brown.  “The organisation was good and, as ever, the stages were fantastic – a real challenge. At over 190 competitive miles the event was much longer than a usual rally and it’s a great achievement to get to the finish.”
“We suffered a little with a clutch judder at the start of the stages on the Friday and Saturday but once the car got going it was fine. Other than that we had no problems and we completed all 27 stages with no damage to the car.”
“Thanks to all my sponsors whose support was vital in helping me contest the rally, thanks also to the P.A.C.E. team for looking after the car on the event and to Paul Stringer who did a fantastic job navigating me around the stages.”
Brown is now considering returning to the island for the Pokerstars rally in November.

Images from BCCC Myherin

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Monday 9 September 2013

Brown all set for Rally Isle of Man return

Rochdale rally driver Steve Brown will contest the Rally Isle of Man next weekend and he is hoping for a repeat of the brilliant result he achieved on last year’s event.
Brown will be driving the same Mintex Racing, Fuchs Titan Race, 710 Oil's, PIAA and Sabelt UK-backed Nissan Micra 1300 that he took to second in class in 2012.
The Micra has been repaired after an accident on Brown’s last event, the Jim Clark National rally in June. Despite the accident Brown finished second in class.
“I’m really looking forward to the event,” said Brown. “The Isle of Man roads are fantastic for rallying and there’s a brilliant atmosphere with loads of spectators cheering the cars on.”
“We’ll have three days of competition including plenty of stages in the dark which will provide a very tough test.”
“The car has had a fair bit of work since the Jim Clark and it’s feeling great. Thanks to everyone on the team for helping get it ready. Thanks also to Mintex for the new brake pads we’ve fitted, Tom at 710 Oils and Chris at PIAA who has supplied us with a HID lamp unit which will be a great help in the night stages.”
The rally starts from Douglas on Thursday 12th September and the crews face a daunting 192 miles of competition on the island’s closed public roads.
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Sunday 8 September 2013

Rally2Raise team enjoy successful Merrick Stages rally

The Rally2Raise team of Aberdeen’s Rachel Clark and Brampton’s Caroline Lodge enjoyed another successful event last weekend when they finished second in class on the GWF Energy Merrick Stages rally.
Heavy rain the day before the rally made the 9 miles of the opening Craignell stage extremely slippery with several of the top drivers having spins. There were no problems for Rachel in her E.Watson and Son, Pirelli, AW Motorsport and McPherson Document Solutions-supported Nissan Micra 1.3 though and she completed the stage fourth in class.

The Dallash stage was next and Rachel maintained her position with another good performance. Following a service halt the crews headed for a pair of stages in Glentrool forest including one that was 13 miles long. With a lot of long straights these stages didn’t suit the Micra which, with around 60bhp, was the lowest powered car in the event. However, Rachel extracted every bit of performance from the car to move up to second in class.
One more stage stood between Rachel and a great result but at 14 miles stage 5 was the longest of the event and it had already claimed several of the cars that were running ahead of the Micra. The crew and car emerged unscathed though and Rachel and Caroline made it to the event finish in Wigtown.

“The stages were absolutely awesome,” said Rachel. “The tracks were very slippery and the weather went from sun to torrential rain and back so conditions were extremely challenging. The little Micra struggled on the long straights, we definitely needed a lot more power there.”
“I tried as much as possible to keep the momentum up – when you slow down it takes a long time to build up speed again in a 1.3. This led to some interesting moments though including bouncing through a ditch at a hairpin in front of a group of spectators. After our gear linkage issues on the last event it was great to have a troublefree rally this time.”

“Thanks to the Marshall family for putting on a brilliant event, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks also to E.Watson and Son, Pirelli, AW Motorsport and McPherson Document Solution for their support and to Clark Motorsport for trailering the car and servicing.”
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Sunday 1 September 2013

Mixed fortunes for Sykes in Ulster Challenge rally

Stourbridge rally driver Richard Sykes had mixed fortunes on last weekend’s double-header BRC Challenge event in Ulster with a podium finish on the first event was followed by a dramatic rally-ending accident on the second.
Sykes and co-driver Simon Taylor went into the weekend looking for two victories to boost their hopes of retaining their BRC Challenge championship crown. A cautious start was made on the opening day, the first stage was very wet and Sykes dropped a few seconds to the leading crew in his Bathams Brewery, G I Sykes Ltd, Silverstone Tyres and Boroughbridge Marina-supported Citroën C2 R2 Max. A long 14 mile stage was next and Sykes used intermediate tyres as it was still wet but this proved to be a mistake as the tyres went off after the halfway point causing more time to be lost.
“Conditions were very wet on stage one,” said Sykes. “We were slightly cautious as, with it being a double-header, we couldn’t risk an accident on the first event.”
“I thought intermediate tyres would be the right choice for stage two but after 8 miles they turned into blancmange which made driving very interesting. At this point we’d dropped to fourth with the championship leader Russ Thompson ahead of us.”
Sykes pushed hard in the remaining stages and with one stage to go he was 7.5 seconds behind Thompson. It was dry enough for Sykes to use soft slick tyres and a storming run through the last stage saw him take 15 seconds out of Thompson to get into third place at the finish.
The team made a decision to go all out for a win on the second event with the car set up aggressively and fitted with hard slick tyres for opening 14 mile Sloughan Glen stage. Sykes was going well but part way through the stage he approached a right hand bend flat out in 5th gear, he changed to 4th but was still doing 90mph as he took the corner which was too quick. The car slid off and hit a bank, coming to an instant stop.
“We went from 90mph to zero immediately, it was probably the biggest impact we’ve ever had. Simon injured his back so could not get out of the car right away but we eventually got him out and laid him down while we used the Rallitrak safety radio to get help.”
“He was stretchered to hospital with a neck brace and back board. After an x-ray and CT scan he was diagnosed with a compound fracture in his L1 vertebrae. After being kept in overnight he was allowed to travel home the next day.”
“The championship is now probably out of reach but we will soldier on and repair the car in time for the Trackrod Challenge rally at the end of September. The damage to the car isn’t too bad, the bank soaked up a lot of the impact. I will need a stand-in co-driver for the Trackrod though as Simon needs 8 weeks off. We’re still third in the championship so we’ll continue to push for a great result.”

Rally2Raise team to return to Merrick Stages rally

The all-female Rally2Raise team will head to Wigtown next weekend to contest the GWF Energy Merrick Stages rally for a second time.

Driver Rachel Clark, from Aberdeen, competed on the event last year and successfully finished after over 40 miles of tough forest stages. This year she will be partnered by Brampton’s Caroline Lodge in the navigator’s seat. The pairing have already completed two events this season with great results on the Scottish rally in Dumfries and the Speyside Stages in Elgin. They will use their usual Nissan Micra 1300 which is supported by E.Watson and Son, Pirelli, AW Motorsport and McPherson Document Solutions.

The team was formed in late 2011 with the aim of using rallying to raise funds and awareness for charities through motorsport. To date they have raised over £3,500 and this year their supported charity is the Nystagmus Network. Nystagmus is a presently incurable eye condition from which Rachel’s son suffers so it is a cause that is very close to her heart. The team are also raising awareness of the Bottle Stop campaign, a project which is seeking to ban glass bottles from town centre pubs following the tragic death of the project founder’s husband in an unprovoked attack with a broken bottle.

“The Rally2Raise project has gone really well,” said Rachel. “I think we’ve done a good job raising awareness of our causes, especially those which are not so well known such as the Nystagmus Network. The rallying community has been incredibly generous in supporting us, I did not expect that we would raise so much in less than two years.”

“I’m really looking forward to the Merrick Stages, I enjoyed it last year and hopefully we will get another good result. The event uses some classic Scottish rallying stages which are a pleasure to compete on. The rally organisers have given us a discounted entry fee which we're extremely grateful for, it's fantastic that they are supporting Rally2Raise again.”

“We’ll have the lowest powered car in the event but that won’t stop us from pushing as hard as we can and trying to beat the crews in more powerful cars.”

As well as competing on the Merrick the team are busy organising a virtual rally to raise funds for the Nystagmus Network. The event will take place on 27th October and entries, costing £5, are available now. All levels of experience are catered for including total beginners and you don’t even have to leave your home to take part! Please visit or for more information.

Monday 19 August 2013

Ulster double-win needed as Sykes battles to retain title


Stourbridge rally driver Richard Sykes will head to Ulster next weekend for the next two rounds of the BRC Challenge championship knowing that back to back wins are vital to keep in the title race. 
After winning the BRC Challenge crown last year Sykes has suffered mixed fortunes in 2013 with problems on each of the three events he has contested in his Bathams Brewery, G I Sykes Ltd, Silverstone Tyres and Boroughbridge Marina-supported Citroën C2 R2 Max.
He goes into the Ulster double-header in third place in the championship so two maximum scores are needed ahead of the final two rounds in September and October.
“It’s been a frustrating season for me so far,” said Sykes. “We’ve been on the pace but circumstances have conspired against us. We had a misfire on the Pirelli which cost us a win, we were leading on the Jim Clark before going off and not being able to battle back due to a lot of stages being cancelled and on the Scottish we were set for a second place finish when a puncture dropped us down the leaderboard.”
“We’ve been fortunate that the championship rewards good class finishes so despite the disappointing overall results we’ve still managed to score enough points to see us in third place in the title race."
“I only have one goal for Ulster and that is to win both events. I did it last year and I won the double event on the Isle of Man in 2007 too so it can be done. With two forest rounds to go after Ulster we need the wins to have a chance of the title. We’d still be relying on the results of others but I can’t control that.”
“We recently found a problem with the car which caused the misfire on the Pirelli and it must have affected me all year so far. A blanking grub screw had fallen out of the back of the inlet plenum in a place that could not be seen. We found it by accident. This has been costing me around 15 horsepower as well as causing the niggle of a misfire.” 
“We are going to Ulster feeling very optimistic and ready for a big push to get the two wins on our preferred surface of the tight twisty tarmac lanes of Enniskillen.”
The rally takes place on 23/24 August with a separate BRC Challenge event on each day.
Image courtesy Tom Murphy

Sunday 4 August 2013

Rally2Raise team overcome gearbox problems to net Speyside finish

Severe gearbox problems and an off could not prevent the Rally2Raise team of Rachel Clark and Caroline Lodge from finishing the Speyside Stages rally last weekend.

The drama started almost immediately for the team in stage 1, Teindland.  Their E.Watson and Son, Pirelli, AW Motorsport and McPherson Document Solutions-supported Nissan Micra 1300 hit a rut which bent the sumpguard and forced it into the gear linkage resulting in the loss of fifth and reverse gears and a third gear which was extremely difficult to engage.

The car was nursed through the next two stages before a service halt at Huntly where the Clark Motorsport crew of Barry and Archie set about repairing it sufficiently for it to continue in the rally.

“The rally did not get off to a good start for us,” said Rachel. “We hit the rut with a fair bit of force. With the gear linkage damaged I didn’t think we’d make it through the next two stages before service but we did and the service crew did a great job to allow us to continue.”

The crew completed stage 4, Gartly, with no further problems and headed to stages 5 and 6, two stages which shared the same start line but which split after a few miles. The girls’ rally almost came to an end in stage 6 as the Micra slid off the road into a ditch. Fortunately some spectators were on hand to push the car back onto the road.

After another service halt the rally was completed with three more stages. These were successfully negotiated and the team headed to the event finish in Elgin city centre.

“The Gartly stage was absolutely fantastic, it’s my new favourite stage. Stage 5 was ok but we were very lucky that there were some spectators nearby in stage 6 otherwise we would not have got out of the ditch, huge thanks to them for helping us.”

“I was very happy to get to the finish. It was a tough event for us, the dust and heat made the inside of the car like the Sahara at some points. It’s disappointing that the gearbox problems meant we couldn’t go as quickly as we’d have liked but we made it to the end when many crews didn’t and we were 65th which isn’t too bad from a start position of 97. Thanks to Caroline for a superb job on the notes, thanks to Barry and Archie for servicing, thanks to the 63 Car Club for a brilliant event and thanks to all our sponsors for their support. ”

The team are hoping to contest the Merrick Stages in September as their next event. Please visit or for more information about the Rally2Raise project which is supporting the Nystagmus Network and Bottle Stop in 2013.

Monday 29 July 2013

Images from BCCC Radnor 2

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Rally2Raise team target class podium on Speyside Stages rally

The Rally2Raise team of Rachel Clark from Aberdeen and Caroline Lodge from Brampton are targeting a class podium when they contest the Speyside Stages rally next weekend.

The pair contested their first event together on the Scottish rally in June and they finished an excellent second in class in their E.Watson & Son, Pirelli, AW Motorsport and McPherson Document Solutions-supported Nissan Micra 1300.

The team are contesting selected Scottish Rally Championship events this year as part of their project to raise funds and awareness for charities. The supported causes this year are the Nystagmus Network and the Bottle Stop campaign. So far they have raised £800 in 2013 to add to the £2,500 they raised last year.

“The project has gone well again this year,” said Rachel. “I’m pleased with how much we have raised so far and we’ve got plans for more fundraisers later in the year.”

“I’m looking forward to the Speyside, we ran as course car on three stages last year which was very enjoyable so we’ve stepped up to the full event this year. It’s a relatively local event for me and it’s run by my own 63 Car Club so it’s good that we can support the rally.”

“We managed to get second in class on the Scottish which I was very happy with so if we can get a similar result next weekend that’d be great, the first priority is to finish though.”

Ahead of the rally Rachel attended a fundraising barbecue with the rally car at the local Woodend nursery. The car proved to be very popular and several of the nursery kids wrote their names on the car wings so they’ll be on display at the rally.

The Speyside Stages is based in Elgin with the crews scheduled to contest 9 stages in the surrounding forests. For more information on Rally2Raise please visit or

Monday 22 July 2013

Wright takes on world rally stars at Goodwood Festival of Speed

Bentham's David Wright enjoyed a very successful Goodwood Festival of Speed event last weekend when he set the third fastest time of the weekend behind two drivers who compete across the world.

It was Wright's second time at the prestigious festival which takes place in the grounds of Lord March's Goodwood House in Sussex. Having beaten several world rally cars last year Wright was invited back to the event by the International Rally Drivers Club.

Using his usual his Kumho Tyres, Proflex, Drenth, York Brewery, Millers Oils, Owen Developments and Grove Hill Garage-supported Mitsubishi Evo 9 Wright set some fantastic times on the first day of the festival and he was leading Citroën World Rally Team driver Mikko Hirvonen right up until Hirvonen's last run of the day.

With the course cutting up and the Evo running on old tyres Wright did not push too hard for a fast time on Saturday and Sunday but he was still quick enough to be third fastest, an excellent result against the factory cars.

"It was a brilliant weekend," said Wright. "The Goodwood rally stage is very challenging and the surface is much more slippery than the forests I usually compete in.  We put in some good times, especially on Friday, and it was great to be on the pace of Mikko."

"I did several runs with VIP guests of the BlackRock drivers' club which was very enjoyable. The weather was amazing although it made conditions in the car very tough."

"Thanks to the IRDC and Goodwood for the invite, it's the best event of the year and hopefully we will get an invite next year too."

Wright is hoping to return to BTRDA rally championship action in September on the Woodpecker Stages event in Ludlow.

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Puncture robs Sykes of Scottish Challenge rally podium

Stourbridge’s Richard Sykes was denied a podium finish on last weekend’s Scottish Challenge rally when a puncture whilst in second place dropped him down the leaderboard.
After a disappointing Jim Clark Challenge rally Sykes was keen for a good result in his Bathams Brewery, G I Sykes Ltd, Silverstone Tyres and Boroughbridge Marina-supported Citroën C2 R2 Max.
The rally started with a loop of three stages, two in the forests near Ae and one at the Heathhall spectator stage near Dumfries. Sykes was on the pace immediately and lay in second place overall after the third stage.
The crews returned to Ae for stages four and five. Stage four went well and Sykes maintained his second place. Disaster struck on stage five though when, four miles in to the 14 mile-long stage Sykes fell victim to the sharp rocks and stones on the road and punctured a front tyre. With 10 miles still to go he had to stop and change the wheel which cost three minutes, dropping him to 9th place.
“We had a very good start to the event, we couldn’t keep up with the torquey Clio of Russ Thompson but I was pleased with second place,” said Sykes. “Sadly the puncture meant we plummeted down the leaderboard but we had no option but to change it in such a long stage. Usually it'd take less than two minutes but a problem with the nut gun meant that it took three.”
With three stages to go Sykes pushed hard to try and regain some positions and by the event finish he was up to 6th place and second in class.
“It’s another disappointing result but 6th is better than 9th and we’re still third in the BRC Challenge championship so all is not lost. The next event is a double-header on the tarmac roads of Ulster which should suit our car. We have to go all out for two wins to keep alive our hopes of retaining the title.”
The Ulster Challenge events take place on 23rd and 24th August.

Sunday 30 June 2013

Successful Scottish for Rally2Raise team

The Rally2Raise team of Aberdeen’s Rachel Clark and Brampton’s Caroline Lodge enjoyed a successful Scottish rally last weekend when they finished second in class with driver Rachel also picking up the trophy for the best lady driver.

After a disappointing Granite City rally in April the team’s aim for the Scottish was to get to the finish in their E.Watson & Son, Pirelli, AW Motorsport, McPherson Document Solutions, Charles Derby Ecosse and San Juan Services-supported Nissan Micra 1300.

The event started with a pair of stages near the village of Ae. Both of these went well  although with Rachel recovering from glandular fever she was suffering at the end of the 14 mile-long second stage.

“I was pleased with the first two stages, it was the first time Caroline and I have competed together but we quickly gelled and had a troublefree run,” said Rachel.  “The second stage left me worn out, the glandular fever totally zapped my energy and I’m not back to full health yet so doing a 14 mile stage in a very hot rally car wasn’t ideal but we made it through and it was great to find we were third in class going into service.”

After the service halt the team faced three more stages. The first was a short blast through Heathhall where the Micra entertained the huge crowd of spectators watching at the watersplash. The event ended with two stages near Gatehouse of Fleet which the team completed with no problems and they headed back to the finish in Dumfries town centre in second in class.

“I’m delighted with the result and winning a trophy that has previously been won by the likes of Louise Aitken-Walker just topped off what was a fantastic weekend. I’d like to dedicate the trophy to Cath Simpson who we lost recently, a true rally enthusiast that will be greatly missed by many including me and the team.”

“Thanks to Caroline for a spot-on job with the notes and keeping me alive with drinks and sweets all day, Colin and Craig Wallace for transporting the car to and from the event, Clark Motorsport for servicing, Paul at Motorsport Mugs for sorting our last minute graphics request and all our sponsors for their support.”

The Rally2Raise team will be back in action on the Speyside Stages in early August. Please visit or for more information.

Final stage disaster ends brilliant Scottish rally drive by Rodgers

Burton upon Stather’s Tim Rodgers contested his first gravel rally for three years last weekend on the Scottish Challenge event and he was heading for a second place finish when he went off the road avoiding another crew’s accident on the final stage.

Rodgers and co-driver Stefan Arndt were using a Ford Fiesta ST and after being on the pace on the tarmac of the Jim Clark Challenge rally they were aiming to be the fastest Fiesta crew in the forests of Dumfries and Galloway.

The event started with two stages in the forests around Ae village before a blast around the popular spectator stage in Heathhall. Despite bending the rear beam in Ae West Rodgers lay in 6th place. Rodgers moved up to fifth after stage four and then a stunning time in the second run of Ae West, where he was quicker than all the other crews, saw him up into third.

“We started off not pushing too hard as I’ve not competed on gravel for a long time,” said Rodgers. “Even so we were beating all the other Group N Fiesta crews and we had a decent position overall. The bent beam meant I had to get used to the car handling slightly differently but it didn’t slow us much. For the second run of Ae I decided to have a real go and it paid off, we were three seconds faster than the event leader and almost 30 seconds quicker than the nearest Fiesta crew.”

The rally moved west for the final two stages in Clatteringshaws forest. Rodgers headed the timesheets again in stage 7, Shaw Hill, and moved into second place overall. He kept up his charge in the final Loch Grannoch stage and it was all going perfectly until a mile from the end when he came round a slight corner at the end of a long straight to find another car partially blocking the road after crashing. Rodgers managed to avoid hitting the car but in doing so his own car went in a ditch at the side of the road and hit some logs. With the car stuck he had no choice but to wait to be recovered and his likely podium finish was gone.

“I’m totally devastated. The team have worked so hard to get us to the event and it looked like we were going to get a second place finish which would’ve been fantastic. It’s particularly gutting that we went out through no fault of our own, there was no time to slow down enough so it was either hit the stricken car or avoid it and land in the ditch and hit the logs, there was nothing else we could do.”

“Thanks to Stefan for a great job on the notes and to Becky Kirvan for the loan of her car. Thanks also to my family for helping me do the rally.”

Rodgers has no definite plans for further events but an entry for his home event, the Trackrod Challenge rally, is possible if he can find sufficient funding.


Sunday 23 June 2013

Rally2Raise team back in action on Scottish rally

The all-female Rally2Raise charity motorsport team will be in action next weekend when they contest the Dumfries-based RSAC Scottish rally in their E.Watson and Son, Pirelli, AW Motorsport, McPherson Document Solutions, San Juan Services and Charles Derby Ecosse-supported Nissan Micra.
The team, led by driver Rachel Clark from Blackburn in Aberdeenshire, are contesting selected rounds of the Scottish Rally Championship as part of their project to raise funds for the Nystagmus Network and to raise awareness of the Bottle Stop campaign.
Joining Rachel in the car will be co-driver Caroline Lodge from Brampton in Cumbria as usual co-driver Katherine Begg has had to withdraw due to illness.
“I’m really looking forward to the Scottish rally,” said Rachel. “The event uses some classic forest stages such as Ae and there’s also the hugely popular spectator stage at Heathhall, it’s sure to be a great event.”
“The car has been fixed after we bent a beam clipping a bridge on the Granite City rally in April so we’re all set for the start. We’ll be running somewhere near the back of the rally as our car is only a 1300cc Micra but we will be trying hard though and aiming to beat some of the bigger-engined entries.”
The rally starts from Dumfries town centre on Saturday 29th June with the crews competing in the local forests as well as the Heathhall spectator stage. More information on Rally2Raise can be found at

Rodgers returns for Scottish Challenge rally

After a successful comeback event on the recent Jim Clark Challenge rally Burton upon Stather driver Tim Rodgers will contest the Scottish Challenge rally next weekend in his Ford Fiesta ST.

Rodgers finished 7th overall on the Jim Clark and was only 3 seconds away from being the leading Fiesta driver on what was his first event for three years. With the Scottish Challenge rally being on the forest gravel stages he is more familiar with rather than the tarmac of the Jim Clark Rodgers has high hopes for another good result. He will once again have Stefan Arndt in the co-driver’s seat.

“I was happy with our performance on the Jim Clark rally, I think had we done all of the stages we would’ve been the quickest Fiesta crew but sadly over half of the competitive mileage was cancelled by the rally organisers due to various incidents. Not being able to do the full rally was a bit of a let down so I decided we’d try and get the budget together to have a run on the Scottish.”

“I’m more used to gravel stages although it’s three years since I did a gravel event. I am confident that we’ll be on the pace though. The Scottish route looks excellent with some classic rallying territory such as Ae forest, it’s going to be a tough event but hopefully a rewarding one.”

The rally has a ceremonial start on the evening of Friday 28th June before 61 competitive stage miles on Saturday 29th June.

Points vital for Sykes on Scottish Challenge rally

Stourbridge’s Richard Sykes will contest the Scottish Challenge rally next weekend and, after a disappointing finish on his last event, a good points haul is vital for his hopes of defending his BRC Challenge championship title.

Sykes was leading at the overnight halt of the last Challenge round, the Jim Clark Challenge rally, but an accident on the first stage of the second day dropped him down the leaderboard. With several stages cancelled by the organisers he was denied the opportunity to fight his way back up the results and ended up in 9th place overall in his Bathams Brewery, G I Sykes Ltd, Silverstone Tyres and Boroughbridge Marina-supported Citroën C2 R2 Max.

“The Scottish is a really important event for us,” said Sykes. “The Jim Clark result meant we dropped to third in the championship so we really need a very strong performance on the Scottish to maintain our hopes of retaining the BRC Challenge crown.”

“I pushed too hard on the Jim Clark trying to beat local driver Ross Hunter and that resulted in us going through a hedge at 70mph as can be seen on You Tube. Experience has taught me that after an accident like that it’s best to try and repair the car rather than just drive off as quickly as possible so that’s what we did. We got a stage maximum but we were still in the event and salvaged 9th and second in class.”

“I think I’m probably the only championship driver to have done the Scottish before as it has not been a BRC Challenge round previously. I did it in 2003 though so I don’t think it will give me any advantage. My co-driver Simon Taylor also has some experience of the event.”

“I’m looking forward to being back on the gravel stages again and will set off confident that we can do well. Our times this year have proved we still have the pace to win events but we’ll have to drive to preserve the car also as the Scottish stages can be rough.”

The rally is based in Dumfries and the crews will tackle around 60 miles of stages in the local forests as well as the very popular Heathhall spectator stage.

Monday 10 June 2013

Snapped shaft ends Dukeries victory hopes for Wright

Bentham’s David Wright was robbed of the chance to push for a victory on last weekend’s Dukeries rally when a driveshaft snapped dropping him down the leaderboard.

Wright got off to a great start in his Kumho Tyres, Proflex, Drenth, York Brewery, Millers Oils, Owen Developments and Grove Hill Garage-supported Mitsubishi Evo 9  and, after setting the fastest time in stage 5 he was up to second overall, just 11 seconds off the leader. With another five stages still to go Wright was confident of making up the time to take the win but disaster struck on the start line of stage 8 when the driveshaft broke.

With no service halt after stage 8 Wright was forced to do two stages with the damaged shaft which dropped him to 13th on the leaderboard. The problem was fixed for the last stage and Wright made it to 12th place and 4th in class.

“The first few stages went really well,” said Wright. “I was very happy to be beating all but one of the World Rally class cars, the Dukeries stages have a lot of long straights which are a major disadvantage for our car.”

“I think we had a great chance of winning the event but the snapped shaft put paid to that. It was a very disappointing way to end what could’ve been a fantastic rally for us.”

Wright’s next event will be the Nicky Grist Stages in July although he will also be appearing at the Goodwood Festival of Speed as part of the International Rally Drivers Club display.

Image courtesy Simon Clarke