Thursday, 6 June 2013

Disappointing Jim Clark Challenge rally for Sykes

Stourbridge’s Richard Sykes had a disappointing Jim Clark Challenge rally last weekend when an accident while leading the event dropped him down the leaderboard.

The event started on Friday night with three stages including the 16 mile Abbey St Bathans stage. Sykes made a brilliant start in his Bathams Brewery, G I Sykes Ltd, Silverstone Tyres and Boroughbridge Marina-supported Citroën C2 R2 Max, storming to an eight second lead over local driver Ross Hunter.

“I love the Abbey St Bathans stage,” said Sykes. “My car suits the roads perfectly and it’s probably my favourite tarmac stage. We had a fantastic run through there to take a 15 second lead. We lost some time in the Tweedside stage that followed but we were only beaten by a guy who lives nearby so I was happy with that.”

Saturday was due to start with the Eccles stage but the event organisers cancelled it. Instead Swinton was the first stage and it was here Sykes’ rally took a turn for the worse. The route was tight and twisty and Sykes had targeted it as one where he could get a good advantage over the other crews. However, after a flat out section at over 100mph the car put two wheels on the grass which meant Sykes could not slow down sufficiently for the following tight corner.

“There was a crest in the road but hitting it at over 100mph turned it into a jump which threw the car to the left and partially onto the verge. It was only 60 metres to the corner, if we’d had all four wheels on the road we could’ve slowed but we had no chance with two wheels on the grass.”

 “We went straight on at the corner and ploughed through a hedge, damaging the front of the car and tearing a tyre off the rim. We made repairs at the scene and got the car going again but we’d dropped to 10th place.”

With plenty of mileage still to go Sykes hoped to be able to work his way back up to 5th place but events conspired against him with three of the remaining six stages cancelled by the organisers.

“After the disaster on Swinton we were confident that we had the pace to get back to 5th as there should’ve been six stages for us to make up time. Sadly the event organisers cancelled three of those and of the remaining three two were very short so our opportunity was gone, especially as the car steering had been damaged in the accident and there was no time to fix it in the frantic 20 minute service halt.”

“It was an extremely disappointing event for us, we lost the opportunity of getting the win and we also lost over half of the mileage that we should’ve done. We still managed to score some points for being second in class so that’s a positive we can take to the next event. We’ve dropped to third in the BRC Challenge championship now though to it’s vital we get a great result next time out.”

Sykes’ next BRC Challenge round will be the Scottish rally at the end of June.