Monday 29 April 2013

Sykes ready to kick off title defence in Cumbria

Stourbridge rally champion Richard Sykes will begin the defence of his BRC Challenge title next weekend when he contests the Carlisle-based Pirelli Challenge rally.

The event was scheduled to be round two of the championship but heavy snow and ice forced the cancellation of the opening round last month.

Sykes will use his usual Bathams Brewery, Boroughbridge Marina, Silverstone Tyres and G I Sykes-supported Citroën C2 R2 Max on the event with co-driver Simon Taylor on the notes.

“I can’t wait to get started, it’s been way too long since I’ve competed on a rally,” said Sykes. With the opening round cancelled and engine problems forcing us to pull the entry we had for another event I’ve not driven the car competitively since last October.”

“I will be testing the car in Wales before heading up to Carlisle so hopefully that will get rid of any rustiness and we’ll be all set to be flat out from the start. We need a good haul of points to kick off our championship.”

“We were going very well on last year’s Pirelli until an electrical problem so I am confident we will be on the pace again this year. Looking at the entry list it’s going to be another very competitive BRC Challenge with a great mix of rivals from last year and some fast new crews joining the fun.”

The Pirelli Challenge rally will feature six tough stages in the notorious Kielder forest complex with the successful crews arriving back in Carlisle early on Saturday evening.

Image courtesy Jakob Ebrey Photography

Wright denied podium position in Hamsterley

Bentham’s David Wright was denied a podium finish in the Tour of Hamsterley rally last weekend when problems with the anti-lag valve meant he retired from the event to prevent more serious damage to the car.

Wright had a race against time to get his Kumho Tyres, Proflex, Drenth, York Brewery, Millers Oils, Owen Developments and Grove Hill Garage-supported GPM Mitsubishi Evo 9 ready for the rally after the accident he suffered on his last event but he made it to the start line and was keen to repeat the win he took last year.
Despite being on the wrong compound tyres for the opening stage Wright was third quickest. Changing the tyres saw him set good times on stages two to five including two second fastest times but hopes of a good result ended in stage six. The anti-lag valve issue cost a few seconds in the stage and rather than risk more expensive damage to the engine Wright decided not to attempt the final stage.

Getting to the rally start was a huge achievement,” said Wright. “We had so much work to do to rebuild the car after the crash and it was all very last minute but we got there! Thanks to everyone who helped. It’s disappointing to retire as a podium finish was on the cards but with our next rally, the Plains, in three weeks time we didn’t want another expensive and time consuming repair to fix so we stopped after the sixth stage.

"It was an ideal shakedown for the Plains though, we had a few small problems which hopefully won’t occur again so I think we’re in a good position to challenge for a top result next time out. I enjoy the stages that the Plains uses to we’ll be pushing for the podium again.”

The Plains rally takes place on 18th May and is based in Welshpool.

Monday 22 April 2013

Wright bids for Hamsterley rally double

Bentham’s David Wright will contest the Tour of Hamsterley rally next weekend with the aim of repeating the win he took on the 2012 event.

After a dramatic crash on the Malcolm Wilson rally in March Wright’s Kumho Tyres, Proflex, Drenth, York Brewery, Millers Oils, Owen Developments and Grove Hill Garage-supported GPM Mitsubishi Evo 9 has been fully rebuilt.

With the car out of action for a few weeks Wright has taken the opportunity to have some work done on the engine with an increase in boost pressure and a remap giving a little extra power.

“The car was pretty bent after the shunt on the last event,” said Wright. “It has taken a lot of work to get it back into good shape but we’re all set for Hamsterley now. We sent the engine away to be uprated so hopefully that will give us more speed in the stages.”

“I love the fast and flowing stages in Hamsterley and it’s my co-driver Michael’s local event so we’ll be pushing hard to take another win although we’ll be up against some very tough competition.”

The event is based in Shildon and the crews will face seven stages in the Hamsterley forest complex.

Sunday 21 April 2013

Bent beam ends strong run for Rally2Raise team

A good performance by the Rally2Raise team on the Granite City rally last weekend was ended when the rear axle on their E.Watson and Son, Pirelli, Andrew Wood Motorsport and McPherson Document Solutions-supported Nissan Micra broke after clipping a bridge in stage 3.

Following the filming of a feature for STV at the pre-event test day on Friday with their newly-dyed Rally2Raise red hair the team of driver Rachel Clark from Aberdeen and co-driver Katherine Begg from Heysham made a good start on the rally’s opening Fetteresso stage, completing the nine miles of tough forest track in 5th in class as well as moving up 15 places from their 111 position on the entry list.

The second stage was in Drumtochty and the girls put in another great performance to move a further five places up the leaderboard despite being in the lowest powered car on the event.

The 1300cc Micra, which had additional support on the rally from Charles Derby Ecosse, Halo Lettings and San Juan Services, was flying in stage 3, Glenfarquhar, but part way through the back of the car slid slightly and the rear wheel clipped a bridge which bent the axle. Despite this the crew kept pushing hard and managed to continue their climb up the results. However, when they got to the road section it was found that there was too much damage to continue and, with no spare axle, the girls parked up at the roadside to await recovery.

“It’s disappointing not to get the finish that we hoped for but I’m actually really pleased with how we did,” said Clark. “The new Pirelli tyres were absolutely fantastic and they gave us so much grip. We were beating cars with two to three times as much power as our Micra and I am very happy with that.”
“I’ve gained a lot of confidence from our performance and I can’t wait for the next event now. Thank you very much to all the sponsors who made it possible for us to contest the event and thanks also to those who have made donations to help our supported charity this year, the Nystagmus Network. We’ve hopefully already sourced a replacement axle so the car should be ready to rally again soon.”

The team’s next scheduled event is the Scottish rally which takes place in June and is based in Dumfries. For more information on Rally2Raise please visit or Donations to the team’s supported charity can be made via

Sunday 14 April 2013

Rally2Raise girls ready to rock on Granite City rally


The Rally2Raise team of Aberdeen’s Rachel Clark and Heysham’s Katherine Begg are all set for their first event of the 2013 rally season next weekend. The pairing will contest the Granite City rally, a round of the Scottish Rally Championship (SRC), in their E.Watson and Son-backed Nissan Micra.

Joining E.Watson and Son, the Stonehaven-based groundwork contracting company, in supporting the Rally2Raise car are Andrew Wood Motorsport, Pirelli, McPherson Document Solutions, Charles Derby Ecosse and Halo Lettings.

Andrew Wood Motorsport supply a wide range of products and services from their Melrose base. In a joint deal with Pirelli they will be supplying tyres for the Micra this season. McPherson’s are a company from Paisley who specialise in document management and scanning. Charles Derby Ecosse are a new firm of financial advisers covering Scotland and the North of England. Their National Director Don Murray is a keen rally fan and occasional competitor. He was the Competitor Rep for the SRC for two seasons. Halo Lettings, a Lancaster-based residential lettings and property management agency, won an innovative online auction to have their logo painted on the girls’ faces for the rally.

“We’re incredibly lucky to have received such wonderful support and I’d like to thank everyone who has helped us,” said Clark. “Without the support we would not be able to either compete in the rally or continue with Rally2Raise.”

“We’ll be aiming to get a finish on the Granite, we’ll be taking it steady and there’ll be no heroics, we just want to complete the stages, get our season off to a good start and raise awareness of our project and the two causes we are supporting this year, the Nystagmus Network and Bottle Stop.”

The team’s charity funds and awareness raising has attracted the interest of the media with both the local press and STV planning on covering the girls’ Granite City adventures. They are sure to be noticed as they will both have their hair dyed bright red for the rally!

"We floated the idea of dying our hair on our Facebook page and Twitter and everyone thought it was a great plan. We've both been blonde for a long time so what better way of showing our commitment to Rally2Raise than by dying our hair the same colour as the Rally2Raise logo! We've had some good donations as a result of it so it will be very worthwhile. Hopefully it'll encourage spectators to come and have a chat about what we are doing also."

The rally will start from Duthie Park in Aberdeen with the crews facing five stages to the south of the city. The distinctive blue and yellow Rally2Raise Micra will start at car 111.

Please visit or for more information on the project. Donations can be made via

Sykes set for Somerset season warm up

Stourbridge’s Richard Sykes will finally get his rally season underway next weekend when he contests the Somerset Stages rally in his BathamS Brewery, Boroughbridge Marina, Silverstone Tyres and G I Sykes-supported Citroën C2 R2 Max.
Sykes had been due to compete in the Rally North Wales Challenge rally last weekend but heavy snow and ice both on the course and surrounding roads forced the organisers to cancel the event. With the next BRC Challenge still three weeks away Sykes has decided to enter the Somerset Stages to give himself some time in the car as he has not competed since last October.
“We need to blow the cobwebs away really,” said Sykes. “Unfortunately the weather prevented us from doing that last weekend so hopefully the Somerset Stages will be a good shakedown for the car and the driver. It was very disappointing that the Rally North Wales was cancelled after all the hard work and preparation to get the car ready but full credit to the organisers for taking the decision, the conditions were awful and there was no chance of the stages being accessed.”

“I’m really looking forward to getting back into the forests, our aim is to drive tidily and work on the set up of the car ahead of the Pirelli rally. There’s only two weeks between the events so we will not be pushing hard as we don’t want to risk damaging the car. There’s no pressure for championship points on this event so we’ll simply be looking to getting some valuable forest mileage.”

“As well as the forests the rally features two runs of a challenging tarmac stage up the Porlock toll road which I’m really looking forward to. Our usual service crew aren’t available for this event so David Newbold, who used to run Paul Wedgebury’s Evo and Peugeot Challenge cars has stepped in. We hope not to give him too much work to do.”

The Somerset Stages is based in Minehead and the crews will do battle in the surrounding forests as well as the Porlock toll road.

Wednesday 10 April 2013

Rally2Raise secure support for SRC campaign

The Rally2Raise team have secured a sponsorship deal which will see them compete in several Scottish Rally Championship (SRC) events this season. The team’s Nissan Micra car will be supported by E.Watson and Son, a groundwork contracting business based in Stonehaven.
After a very successful debut season in 2012 when £2,500 was raised for four charities the team are using rallying to support two causes this year, the Nystagmus Network and the Bottle Stop campaign.
The team of driver Rachel Clark, from Aberdeen, and co-driver Katherine Begg, from Heysham, will start their SRC programme with the Granite City rally on 20th April.
“After the unfortunate events of last year’s Granite City rally we were determined to enter again,” said Clark. “The generous support of E.Watson and Son has enabled us to do that. We’ve got an ambitious plan to do five SRC events this year and the sponsorship has meant we are much nearer to achieving our goal.”
“By competing on the events we will continue the good work we did last year in supporting charities, especially as the two causes for this year are not commonly known – we aim to change that.”
Brian Watson of E.Watson and Son commented: “We’re delighted to support Rally2Raise, the team did really well with their fundraising last year and we’re happy that we can help them progress the project in 2013.”
The girls will be dying their hair a Rally2Raise red colour for the Granite City rally so look out for them and their distinctive yellow and blue Micra on the event!

Please visit or for more information on the project. Donations can be made via

Monday 1 April 2013

Champion Sykes ready to start title defence in Wales

2012 BRC Challenge champion Richard Sykes is all set for the opening round of this year’s championship, the Rally North Wales Challenge, as he seeks to become the first driver ever to defend the closely-fought title. 

Sykes will drive his usual Citroën C2 R2 Max with support from Bathams Brewery, G I Sykes, Boroughbridge Marina and Silverstone Tyres and he will have Simon Taylor in the co-driving seat again.

“The car has been fully rebuilt by Simon Hawthorne at G I Sykes Rally Preparations after our misdemeanour on the Mull rally at the end of last year,” said Sykes. “It’s been a few months since we competed and I can’t wait to get to the start line. We’re quietly confident for Rally North Wales and our objective for the weekend is to finish on the podium and score some valuable points to start the season at the right end of the leaderboard.”

“It will be the 8th year that Simon has co-driven for me and we’ve built up a formidable relationship. Our rally team is full of confidence and experience and we’ll be giving our all to try and win the championship again, something that nobody else has ever achieved. We’re fortunate that Bathams Brewery, Boroughbridge Marina, G I Sykes and Silverstone Tyres have all continued their support of the team this year and I am very grateful for that.”

The Rally North Wales Challenge will start from Welshpool on Saturday and the Challenge crews will face around 50 miles of competition on the fast gravel tracks of Dyfi and Gartheiniog forests.

Image courtesy Simon Clarke