Monday 3 November 2014

Roger Albert Clark rally entry looking good

The entry for this year’s Roger Albert Clark Rally (28-30 November) is shaping up to be one of the most competitive and cosmopolitan in the event’s history, with a raft of potential winners and eleven overseas entries already placed.

With a month to go until the event starts from a new rally HQ in Sunderland, entries for the main event have already passed the 40-mark and continue to arrive at a steady rate. The overseas entry includes drivers from Holland, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Austria and Belgium, with more expected.

Leading entries for the historic event include the rapid Ford Escort Mk2s of Matthew Robinson, Seamus O’Connell, Paul Griffiths, Guy Woodcock and event newcomer Rudi Lancaster, while Chris Browne heads the Escort Mk1 entry. Entries are expected from at least another eight likely front-runners.

A major feature of this year’s rally is the strength of the overseas entry, which is topped by reigning Swedish historic champion Martin Hagman (26) in his Ford Escort RS1800. He will be co-driven by his father Jan on his first foray to the UK.

In the Open Rally, the Escort Mk2s of former winners Martyn Hawkswell and Dave Hemingway will line-up against the Escort of Barry Stevenson-Wheeler for what promises to be an excellent contest.

Meanwhile, the battle among the oldest cars in Category 1 (pre ’68) has just warmed up with an entry for Paul Mankin in his Lotus Cortina. He will take on the similar car of veteran Bob Bean, who has an unrivalled record of competing on this event and the original RAC Rally. Jim Valentine and Stephen Higgins head the typically strong Saab entry in their pair of two-stroke 96s.

Dutchman Mark Schmidt will be part of a four-car team from Holland in his glorious Category 1 Austin Healey 3000. The orange Healey will tackle the event for the third time and Schmidt says that his ambition this year is simply to finish after two non-finishes in previous attempts. Making just as impressive sight in the forests will be the 1964 Ford Falcon of Swedish driver Per Garansson.

Entries are also open for the two support events. The Peregrine Print Rally will start in Sunderland and cover 53 stage miles on Saturday, while the Clubman’s Rally will be based in central Kielder and cover 49 stage miles on Sunday. With a £100 discount for crews entering both rallies, the overall package offers 102 forest stage miles for £800.

For more details about the Roger Albert Clark Rally, please visit

Thursday 30 October 2014

Brown to make rally return on Anglesey

Rochdale’s Steve Brown returns to rally competition next weekend when he contests the Glyn Memorial event in his Nissan Micra 1300.

Brown had hoped to use his new Micra but it is not quite ready so he’ll be out in the well-known  Fuchs Titan Race, 710 Oil, Mintex, AP Racing, Six 80 Aviation, Sabelt, Power Maxed and PIAA- supported purple machine that he has used to good effect in recent years.

“The new car is just about finished,” said Brown. “There are a few things that need completed so unfortunately we won’t be able to use the rally as a test session for it.”

“We’ll have a last minute rush to get the other car ready, it’s presently lacking a gearbox but I should be collecting that a couple of days beforehand so hopefully we’ll be all set for the startline.”

The Glyn Memorial rally will take place at Ty Croes racetrack on Anglesey, a venue Brown last competed at in 2007.

“I did an event at Ty Croes in a 1000cc Micra and managed to win my class. It’s a venue more suited to powerful cars so I’ll have to push very hard to get a good result. It often rains very heavily on Anglesey so maybe that will even things up a bit more. I’ll have my usual co-driver Paul Stringer with me.”

“We’ll hopefully get to test the new car very soon and then we’ll start finalising plans for the 2015 season. We’re currently considering a few different options. Thank you to all my sponsors for their support.”

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Hemingway set for Roger Albert Clark Rally

Among the early entries for the Open Category of the 2014 Roger Albert Clark Rally (28-30 November) is the Ford Escort Mk2 of Dave Hemingway and Simon Ashton. Hemingway is one of a very select band of drivers to have tackled all 10 events so far and he says he will join the ‘11 out of 11 club’ in November.

The Yorkshire-based driver and his Swedish-based co-driver won the Open Category in 2008 and 2010 and will now strive to stop Martyn Hawkswell and Nick Welch extending their recent hat-trick of Open wins.

Hemingway says that the Sunderland base and rally route in the Kielder complex will make it a very tough rally. “It’s a massive challenge every year. There are a lot of stage miles and it’s a tough event.”

Ironically, Kielder has never been kind to Hemingway. “To be honest, Kielder is my nemesis,” he said. “In 2004 I had a lot of bad luck in there. I was doing very well until we went into Kielder and I thought I could just keep the same pace up. But I learned about Kielder the hard way and ended up in a big ditch.”

He says that he really does not have any ‘local’ knowledge of the stages in the largest man-made forest in Europe. “I hardly remember any of it,” he said. “Just occasionally you’ll recognise a little bit. I know Yorkshire really well but I have to adopt a different mode of driving for Kielder.

“In 2004, we spent all night repairing the car and managed to get going again and finish the event. So I’ve finished every one and we’ve won the Open Rally twice. I think I’m the only one who has finished all of them.”

For Hemingway, it is the rally of the season. “I plan my season around the Roger Albert Clark,” he said. “Simon comes over from Sweden every year to co-drive. He missed the first two, but he’s done all the rest with me. He’s brilliant on the maps and we’re looking forward to it immensely.”

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Images from BCCC Bovington

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Broken gearbox ends promising Rally Isle of Man run for Brown

Rochdale’s Steve Brown had his hopes of a good result on Rally Isle of Man last weekend ended when the gearbox on his Nissan Micra broke on stage 20 of the event.

The event commenced on Thursday night with four stages scheduled. Brown made a great start in his Mintex Racing, Fuchs Titan Race, 710 Oils, PIAA, Sabelt UK and Six 80 Ltd Aviation Asset Management-backed car, setting the third fastest time in the class on the opening stage in front of a large crowd of spectators on Douglas promenade. 

Due to incidents with other cars resulting in stage cancellations Brown was only able to complete one more stage on the opening leg and he ended the night fourth in class. 

A very challenging day two of the event would see the crews face 13 tough stages. Brown’s car suffered from a lambda sensor issue early on but this was fixed and he was able to move back up to third in class by the end of the day with a storming drive which included setting one stage time which was 12th fastest on the event, beating several much more powerful cars. 

Day three had a further 7 stages but Brown’s event was sadly to be over after the third stage, “Snuff the Wind”, as the Micra’s gearbox failed meaning that he could not continue. At the time he was still third in class as well as 19th overall.

“It’s very disappointing not to get to the end of the event, it’s my first retirement in 8 years of rallying,” said Brown. “We can take a lot of positives from the event though, the upgrades we made to the car worked well and we were showing good pace.”

“I hope to be back on the Isle of Man for the Pokerstars rally in November but it will depend on how much it will cost to fix the gearbox. Thanks to all my sponsors and the team at PACE for their support.”

Please visit to keep up to date with the latest news.

Photo courtesy Martyn's Fotos

Monday 8 September 2014

Images from M-Sport corporate event

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Sykes ready for rally championship showdown on Isle of Man

Stourbridge’s Richard Sykes will finish his British Rally Championship (BRC) Challenge season later this week when he contests Rally Isle of Man in his Bathams Brewery and G I Sykes Ltd-backed Citroën C2 R200 with co-driver Emma Morrison.

Sykes will be trying to win back the championship he won in 2012, having finished as the runner up last year. He holds a four point lead in the title race but with the Manx event counting as two separate rounds, with extra points available for the last round, the championship is still all to play for.

“It’s difficult to know how to play it,” said Sykes. “Do we go steady and aim to survive the 75 miles of stages in the first round, thereby making sure we take part in the second or do we go flat out from the start and aim to win them both. One thing is for sure and that is that two finishes are more important than the wins as, the way the points are, I really have to score on both rounds.”

“It’s been four years since I competed on the Isle of Man so I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a very challenging event, the roads are tight and twisty and the weather usually throws everything at us with very changeable conditions. It can go from brilliant sunshine to rain and mist in a few minutes. It’s certainly a huge test of crew and car.”

“I am hoping that, whatever the result, we will get to have a great fight and enjoy some good sport as the championship has been a little flat this year with the incidents that have happened. It would be good to end on a positive note.”

“Our car is looking good and, with previous round being stopped after a few miles, we have been able to concentrate on making sure the fine details are right so the car is ready for 166 tough stage miles.”

The rally starts on Thursday night with four stages in the dark including a very popular spectator stage which runs along Douglas promenade. The action continues through Friday before the event finishes at the TT Grandstand on Saturday afternoon.

Image courtesy

Sunday 7 September 2014

Brown to make rally return on Isle of Man

Rochdale rally driver Steve Brown will make his return to competition next week when he contests Rally Isle of Man.

Brown has not driven on an event since last year’s Pokerstars rally as he has been busy both building a new car and upgrading the Nissan Micra which he used to finish 16th overall last time out.

With the new car not quite ready Brown will use the same Mintex Racing, Fuchs Titan Race, 710 Oils, PIAA, Sabelt UK and Six 80 Ltd Aviation Asset Management-backed Micra as last year for his challenge on the tough island event.

“We still have some work to do on the new car but hopefully that will be out later in the year,” said Brown. “We’ll be back in the purple 1300cc Micra on the Isle of Man. We had great results there in 2012 and 2013 so we’re looking to make it a hat-trick this year.”

“The car has gone through some updates in the last few months with throttle bodies, a pedal box and hydraulic handbrake being fitted so we’ll be pushing hard to get as high up the leaderboard as we can.”

“The rally is a huge test of both car and crew. There are nearly 170 miles of competitive stages on the notoriously tricky Manx roads, some of which are in the dark. The weather is usually a big challenge on the island too, with conditions changing from sunshine to rain and mist in a matter of minutes.”

The rally starts on Thursday evening with four stages including the highly popular spectator stage on Douglas promenade. A further 20 stages will take place on Friday and Saturday with the crews finishing at the famous TT Grandstand.

You can follow reports on how Brown is getting on through his Facebook page,

Tuesday 12 August 2014

Sykes faces tough tarmac test in rally championship battle

Stourbridge’s Richard Sykes is looking to extend his slender British Rally Championship (BRC) Challenge lead next weekend when he contests the Ulster rally.

After crashing out of the previous championship round in Scotland, Sykes’ lead in the title race was cut to just two points so the pressure is on to bring the Bathams Brewery and G.I.Sykes-supported Citroën C2 R200 home in a good points scoring position.

Sykes prepared for the tarmac lanes of Ulster by contesting the recent Tyneside Stages, an event which used the army ranges at Otterburn. His rally didn’t go to plan with various car problems and he was eventually forced out with a broken driveshaft.

“After the gravel forest roads of Scotland we decided to do an extra event to test the car in tarmac specification,” said Sykes. “We had a puncture early on which damaged the brake line so we had to do a stage without any brakes.”

“We got that repaired but then we had a heavy landing after a huge flat-out jump. The car landed on one side with such an impact that the engine and gearbox were pushed over enough to pull out a driveshaft. We managed to get back to service and change the shaft but it broke again on the next stage so we decided to retire. Hopefully that’s all the mechanical dramas out of the way and we’ll be able to push hard in Ulster with no problems.”

“The rally will be a big test for all the team. Last year we were battling for the win and had a 90mph crash into a solid bank which put my co-driver Simon Taylor into hospital. We’ve got to put that out of our minds though. A good result is vital for the championship and we’re primarily aiming to get to the finish. A win would be great but scoring points is more important.”

“With the scheduled final championship round being cancelled we’ll only have one more rally after Ulster, the Rally Isle of Man. This will be a double-header event with extra points on offer so we need to make sure we’re in pole position for the championship after Ulster. The prize for winning the championship is an entry on Rally GB which is a great opportunity, we’re leading presently but we need to be there at the end of the season.”

The BRC Challenge crews will face 104 miles of competition over two days with the event starting early on Friday afternoon.

Image courtesy

Tuesday 1 July 2014

Images from the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2014

To see the images please click here.

Disappointing end to tough Scottish rally for Sykes

Stourbridge’s Richard Sykes had a disappointing end to his Scottish rally last weekend when he crashed out of the event while comfortably in the lead.
The event, round three of the British Rally Championship (BRC) Challenge, commenced on Friday evening with a very popular spectator stage near Dumfries. Sykes and co-driver Emma Morrison were the quickest of the BRC Challenge crews by 1.6 seconds in their Bathams Brewery and G I Sykes-supported Citroën C2 R200.

Day two started with stages in Twiglees and Castle O’er. Sykes continued to set the pace, extending his lead to 5.8 seconds over Ross Hunter, although the stages were not without incident.
“The Friday stage went very well and it was great to be leading,” said Sykes. “Day two got off to a fairly dramatic start, we hit a big hidden rock in Twiglees on the inside of a corner. The car was thrown up onto two wheels and I had to steer into the undergrowth to avoid rolling it. We just managed to keep the momentum going and took it steady to the end of the stage in case the suspension or wheels had been damaged. We made it to the end and then found a massive gash in the tyre so we were lucky not to have picked up a puncture. We’d also bent a ball joint. The tyre was changed and we headed to Castle O’er where we set another fastest time.”

The ball joint was replaced in service and new tyres fitted ready for the longest section of the rally, a loop of four stages totalling 30 miles including a 14 mile test in Ae forest. After three of the four stages Sykes had built up a lead of 31 seconds but it was all to go wrong on the fourth stage of the loop.
“We pushed very hard in the three stages after service and we built up a very good lead. The suspension took a hammering and we had to stop and make some repairs as the strut body bolts had all come undone. We managed to make the repairs without incurring a penalty.”

“With the lead we had we decided to maintain the position rather than take risks but disaster struck on the next stage. The event organisers had had to make an amendment to the route and it was too late for the pacenotes to be changed. We managed to borrow some notes from crews who were doing another event and had already had a recce drive of the stage.”
“Unfortunately when we arrived at the amended section we found the notes were not right for us, the first corner was described as a medium when in fact it was very tight so I was going way too fast. We slid into a large ditch on the outside of the corner and smashed into a tree stump, ripping off the radiator and holing the sump. That was our rally over.”

“I blame myself for the accident, we should’ve been more careful having not had chance to check that the pacenotes were correct. The only positive is that our two main championship rivals have already had one retirement on earlier rounds so it is still all to play for in the title race.”
“We’ll get the car up and running again and put it back into tarmac specification for the next round in Ulster. The Scottish was very disappointing but I will put that out of my mind and push hard for another win to keep up our championship challenge.”

The Ulster rally will take place in mid-August.

Image courtesy 

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Sykes aiming for the treble on Scottish rally

Stourbridge rally driver Richard Sykes will be targeting his third win in three events this season when he contests the latest round of the British Rally Championship (BRC) Challenge, the Scottish rally, next weekend.

After wins on the Pirelli and Jim Clark Challenge events Sykes and co-driver Emma Morrison lead the championship in their Bathams Brewery and G I Sykes Ltd-supported Citroën C2 R200 and they are hoping for better luck than they had on last year’s event when a puncture dropped them down the leaderboard from 2nd place.
“The puncture dropped us down to 9th which was hugely disappointing,” said Sykes. “We managed to fight back to 5th at the finish but we lost a lot of points. It’s the only puncture I’ve had on my Silverstone tyres in four years, they are normally very good and, dare I say it, more puncture resistant than most.”

“I’m in two minds whether to push hard for another win or have a steady run and make sure we get a good haul of championship points. The trouble is, when I get behind the wheel and put the helmet on, there is only one way I can drive on the gravel tracks and that is flat out.”
Sykes’ car is still damaged from the accident it suffered when another car pulled out in front of it before the Jim Clark rally but the damage shouldn’t hinder the performance.

“The car is not quite straight but we will have to dial that out and get on with it. After the tarmac roads of the Jim Clark rally we’ve put the car back into forest specification ready for the gravel tracks the Scottish will use.”
“A third win would be brilliant but any podium result will leave us in a very healthy championship position before we head to Ulster and the Isle of Man for the next rounds.”

“Thanks to Bathams Brewery for their continued fantastic backing, G I Sykes Ltd for their support and car preparation and Martin Billings for on-event support.”
The rally is based in Dumfries and the crews will tackle 59 miles of forest stages including Ae, Castle O’er and Twiglees.

Monday 9 June 2014

Images from BCCC Forrest Estate


Please click here to see the photographs. Prints and electronic images are available from the BCCC official photographer,

Monday 2 June 2014

Sykes takes Challenge win on tragic Jim Clark rally

Stourbridge’s Richard Sykes won a tense battle in the British Rally Championship (BRC) Challenge category of the Jim Clark rally last weekend but the event ended in tragic circumstances with an accident involving some spectators.
Sykes endured a difficult run up to the rally. The Bathams Brewery and G I Sykes Ltd-supported Citroën C2 R200 had to be quickly converted into tarmac trim following work  on the engine and on the Wednesday before the event the car was sent to a rolling road facility to check that the engine work had improved the performance. Following the test, team member Simon Hawthorne was driving the car back to base when another vehicle pulled out and hit the car, completely smashing up the front and side of it.

“It was not the start to the rally preparations that we wanted” said Sykes. “Fortunately Simon wasn’t badly injured but the car was a mess. We ordered some parts to be delivered on Thursday and Simon and Martyn Billings started work on the repairs at 6am. They worked through until 2am Friday and then drove five hours to the rally at Kelso so I could test the car on the shakedown stage.”
With the shakedown stage successfully completed Sykes could finally concentrate on the event itself. The BRC Challenge rally started on Friday night with a stage around Duns town centre. Sykes was quickly into his stride, setting the fastest time by nearly three seconds from Ross Hunter. The fastest times continued on stages two and three which allowed Sykes to take a 9 second overnight lead.

The warm weather which greeted the crews on Saturday morning caused problems for Sykes. The pre-event accident destroyed the radiator and it was not possible to get a competition-spec replacement so a standard part had to be used. This wasn’t an issue on the cool Friday night stages but the car started overheating on Saturday.  The team had to remove the grill and lift the bonnet up slightly to try and get extra air to the engine and the car was run with the heater on full blast which made the interior very uncomfortable for Sykes and co-driver Emma Morrison.
Despite the overheating Sykes was able to maintain his lead up until stage 14 when Hunter overhauled him. Sykes was not going to give up though and he charged through the 11 miles of stage 16 over 13 seconds quicker than Hunter to lead by two seconds.

There should have been a further two stages but sadly an accident caused the event to be stopped.
“It had been an amazing rally and a great battle with Ross, who won the event last year.  We had a decent lead going into day two but Ross fought back and was 11 seconds up on us going into stage 16.”

“I was not going to settle for second though, after all the work the team put in getting the car to the event I wanted to give them a win and, having finished second three times, I wanted a win for myself too. I pushed as hard as I could on the long Swinton stage and then waited at the finish counting the seconds until Ross arrived. We had done enough to get back into the lead but only by two seconds. It was still all to play for on the final two stages of the event.”
“However, on the way to the next stage we passed many emergency vehicles and then we were told the event had been cancelled. Information was sketchy for a couple of hours and the mood in the service area was very subdued. Tragically some spectators had lost their lives after being hit by a car after we’d passed through the stage.”

“We left the event not caring what the results were as it all seemed a little unimportant after what had happened. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the people who lost their lives and with the crew involved who must be devastated.”
“We will take the win and dedicate it to my service crew who worked miracles but we will only remember the rally for the events which caused it to be cancelled.”

Image courtesy

Monday 26 May 2014

Sykes looking to build championship lead on Jim Clark rally

Stourbridge rally driver Richard Sykes is aiming to build his lead in the British Rally Championship (BRC) Challenge title race next weekend on the Jim Clark rally after taking victory on the opening round, the Pirelli rally in Cumbria.
Sykes has never won the BRC Challenge on the Jim Clark although he has finished second three times and third once. He was leading the event last year until he lost a lot of time following an accident.

Since the first round further work has been undertaken on the Bathams Brewery and G.I.Sykes Ltd-supported Citroën C2 R2 Max to improve the new engine that was fitted at the start of the season.
“The new engine performed well on the Pirelli but it wasn’t quite right so we’ve done some more development work on it ahead of the Jim Clark,” said Sykes. “ It often rains on the event so we’re thinking of setting the car up for wet conditions. Simon Hawthorne has done his usual excellent job of preparing the car.”

“A win would be great next weekend but the first priority is to get a good finish and a decent haul of championship points. We led the event last year but were caught out on a downhill corner and the car went through a hedge into a field and there weren’t enough stage miles left to fight back into a good position.”
“The stages on the Jim Clark are on closed public roads and they include Abbey St Bathans which is my favourite rally stage – it has 16 miles of twisty tarmac with plenty of places to catch crews out, it’s a real challenge to get right.”

“Emma Morrison will once again be in the co-driver’s seat and we’ll also have Martyn Billing’s expertise on the event which will give us a great chance.”
The event starts on Friday evening and it continues on Saturday with the crews tacking over 110 miles of high-speed competitive stages.

Sunday 11 May 2014

Images from BCCC Ebbw Vale

Please click here to see the photographs. Prints and electronic images are available from the BCCC official photographer,

West and Widdop win in wet Wales


Andrew West and Peter Widdop battled tough weather conditions to take victory in round two of the Britpart British Cross Country Championship.The event was held near Ebbw Vale on a hilltop farmland course made up of tracks and moorland. West was quickest on the first run of the event in his Discovery Centre-backed Milner R5, three seconds ahead of round one winner Martin Cox with Martin Gould lying in third place in his V8 Clio.

West continued to head the leaderboard throughout the opening day and he built up an overnight lead of 1m 39s over Cox. With Gould blowing a diff on the Clio it was Paul Garner who held third place going into day two.
The top three maintained their positions on day two with West extending his lead by a further 10 seconds.

“I’m very pleased with the result,” said West. “It’s been a real battle in the wind and the rain and it’s good to take the win. We had to change a wheel bearing overnight but other than that we had no problems. We’re up to second in the championship now so we’ll be pushing hard for another win at the next round.”
Cox took second despite his brakes failing on the last two runs, the result meaning that he keeps the lead in the championship race.

“Second is a great result in the circumstances,” commented Cox. “After a problem-free round one we had a few issues this weekend, wrong tyres for the first three runs, leaking power steering fluid and brakes which starting going three runs from the end and then totally failed on the last two runs. The weather was atrocious and I’m indebted to my service crew and all the marshals who stood out in it.”
Garner claimed his first podium position of the season in his GSR V10. He commented: “I’m happy with third, we were running on part-worn tyres so we struggled for grip in the wet conditions. We also had a rear shaft break which lost us time. We’re working our way up the leaderboard though so that’s good.”

Paul Myers managed to get his car repaired in time following it’s round one inversion and he was rewarded with fourth place. Ryan Cooke fought back from electrical problems on the opening run to take fifth place in his Milner LRM-1.
In sixth was Andy Powell. There was some doubt as to whether Powell would make the event as the new diff he needed for his Simmbugghini wasn’t delivered as planned. However, it finally appeared at 2.30pm on Friday and he got it fitted in time.

Paul Harris was 7th in the Bristol Street Motors-supported GSR Maxilight, a good result after his round one retirement. Mark Jacques claimed 8th in his new 3M Challenger despite a broken trackrod end on day two.
The Isuzu UK D-Max of Jason Sharpe was in 9th, the team having to borrow a CV joint from their service vehicle to keep the car going. Ian Bartlett rounded off the top ten in his Tomcat Tornado.

Alan Thomas won the Trophy category in his Warrior Gemini while in the Freelander Challenger Ben Gott triumphed in the Dynamic Metals-supported Race2Recovery car.
The BCCC moves to Scotland for the next round with the crews heading to the Forrest Estate course in Dumfries and Galloway.

BCCC Results
1.            Andrew West/Peter Widdop (Milner R5) 01:41:39
2.            Martin Cox/Paul Carson (GSR 206 Evo 9) 01:43:28
3.            Paul Garner/Giles Tinkler (GSR V10) 01:48:09
4.            Paul Myers/Martin Myers (Land Rover Tornado) 01:49:41
5.            Ryan Cooke/Lee Channing (Milner LRM-1) 01:55:52
6.            Andy Powell/Phil Ibbotson (Simmbugghini) 01:56:52
7.            Paul Harris/Mark Phelps (GSR Maxilight) 01:59:16
8.            Mark Jacques/Simon Last (3M Challenger) 02:06:45
9.            Jason Sharpe/Russell Sharpe (Isuzu D-Max) 02:07:32
10.          Ian Bartlett/Gary Bartlett (Tomcat Tornado) 02:09:23

Friday 9 May 2014

Sykes starts rally season in style with Pirelli win

Stourbridge rally driver Richard Sykes made a winning start to his BRC Challenge championship campaign with a dominant victory on the opening round, the Pirelli rally.
Sykes got his rally off to a flying start, setting a time nearly 15 seconds faster than his nearest rival on the opening stage, with the new engine in his Bathams Brewery and G.I.Sykes-supported Citroen C2 performing brilliantly. Sykes time was so quick that he would’ve been 4th overall in the main British Rally Championship event that ran alongside the Challenge, only being beaten by three more powerful turbo cars.

The pace was maintained over the other five stages on the event, Sykes and co-driver Emma Morrison powering to the fastest time on all but one of them to win by over a minute.
“We had a great rally and gave the new engine a really good test,” said Sykes. “We’ve struggled to get the engine right and we were still making adjustments on a rolling road the day before the event. There’s still more to come, I think it’s around 85% right at the moment.”

“Emma and I worked like clockwork and had a really good safe run. We pride ourselves on being quick out of the box and it was great to be so much quicker than our rivals on the first stage as well as being on the pace of the top British Rally Championship crews. I didn’t get sucked in to trying to beat those guys though and concentrated on keeping the lead in my own event.”
“The stages in Kielder were as good as ever, especially on the second run. We saw 109mph on one of the straights which is always exciting on gravel!”

“It was brilliant to drive the car with a different engine. The characteristics have changed and it was like a new car. I soon got used to the extra torque though and it really suited the gravel roads.”
“The team worked for hours and hours to prepare and finish the car for the Pirelli so big thans to them, I hope the win is payback for the massive effort everyone has put in.”

Next up for Sykes is the Jim Clark rally which is held on closed public roads around Duns in the Scottish Borders and the team are working hard to set the car up for tarmac and make more progress with the new engine.
Image courtesy Frank Love

Sunday 4 May 2014

BCCC battle heads to Ebbw Vale for round 2


Crews in the Britpart MSA British Cross Country Championship (BCCC) will head to Hafod-Y-Dafal near Ebbw Vale next weekend for the second round of this year’s series. The site is a new one for the BCCC and the course is expected to be around six miles of moorland tracks.

Martin Cox heads the championship table on 86 points after taking his first BCCC win in the opening round at Pikes Peak. Unlike his main rivals, Cox had a trouble-free event and he’s hoping for another good run at Hafod-Y-Dafal.
Cox commented: “The car is all ready to go, there was nothing needed fixing after Pikes Peak, all we’ve done is give it a good clean. Bring on the next round!”

Paul Myers finished in second place in round one and has 81 points. Myers faces a race against time to be ready for round two. He rolled his car over the flying finish line and a post-event inspection revealed that more damage had been sustained than initially thought.

Andrew West is in third place on 75 points, a better result than he was expecting after suffering serious cooling issues at Pikes Peak with his Milner R5, including a burst header tank.

Crews hoping for better fortunes at round two include Andy Powell who had a troublesome opening day at round one which included breaking a shaft on one run and a loose brake pipe on another. Powell will once again have Phil Ibbotson in the navigator’s seat. Paul Harris will return in his GSR Maxilight following a head gasket failure.

“We’ve removed the engine and put another in,” said Harris. “Hopefully we can get a good result at round two, I’m looking forward to racing at a new venue.”

Ian Bartlett was another driver who retired at Pikes Peak. His Tomcat has had the damaged oil pipe fixed that caused the retirement and work has been done to try and prevent the problem occurring again. Bartlett is also busy getting his usual 3M 206 ready for a return to competition.

In the Trophy category Alan Thomas is looking for another win in his Warrior Gemini while in the Freelander Challenge the Race2Recovery team presently lead the class ahead of championship newcomer Ian Linford.

The event will start at 10am on Saturday morning with a full day of action. Day two will start at 9am with the finish scheduled for early afternoon. Spectator information is available on

Sunday 27 April 2014

Sykes aiming to get rally season off to a winning start

Stourbridge’s Richard Sykes will finally start his rally season next weekend when he contests the Pirelli Carlisle RB Foundation rally which, after Rally North Wales was cancelled, is the opening round of the British Rally Championship (BRC). Sykes will compete in the BRC Challenge category and, having won the championship in 2012 and finished second in 2013, he’s aiming to get his title campaign off to a flying start on the Carlisle-based event.

He will again use his Citroën C2 which will be supported by Bathams Brewery and G.I.Sykes Ltd. The car has undergone a major rebuild over the winter with extensive work being undertaken to develop the engine.
“M-Sport have developed the Fiesta R200 rally car making it into a 200 bhp racer, so we decided to do the same thing with my C2,” said Sykes. “We have built a completely different engine for the car, changing the cams, pistons, rods, induction system, flywheel and ECU. We’re hoping for 200 bhp but we may have to go through a little bit of development first which isn’t always nice but, fingers crossed, we’ll have a good run on the Pirelli.”

Emma Morrison will be in the co-driver’s seat of the Citroën. Morrison stood in for Sykes’ usual co-driver Simon Taylor at the end of last season following an injury sustained in a crash on the Ulster Challenge rally. With Taylor taking a sabbatical to get married, Morrison will continue her role this year.
“I have been racing with or against Emma for the last five seasons and she did a great job in the car last year. She was our first choice to take over from Simon. She is very experienced, excellent in and out of the car and, combined with her superior organising skills, make her an ideal co-driver. We are looking forward to the year ahead.”

“We are staying true to the BRC and again competing in the BRC Challenge class of the championship which suits us really well. Having won the championship in 2012 and finished runner up last year we are looking for another win this year.”
“The cancelation of Rally North Wales was a real blow and it delayed our championship start, we are gagging to go racing now and can’t wait to start.”

The rally starts on Saturday morning from Carlisle with the Challenge crews battling over six stages totalling 55 miles in and around Kielder forest.

Action shot courtesy 

Sunday 23 March 2014

EMMU rescue to continue to benefit from MIS Motorsport support

Motorsport rescue service EMMU will continue to be supported by MIS Motorsport in 2014 after the Kent-based motorsport insurance provider funded the replacement cost of one of the unit’s patient monitors.
MIS Motorsport started their support last year when they sponsored the purchase of two cordless saws for EMMU. The saws are a vital tool in the process of aiding the extraction of casualties from crashed vehicles.

The new patient monitor will allow the EMMU crew members to monitor all the parameters associated with an injured patient including pulse rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation levels and temperature.
EMMU crew chief Stuart Westbrook commented: “The patient monitor plays a hugely important part in dealing with casualties, we can keep track of the main parameters and target our actions appropriately.”

“I’m very grateful to MIS Motorsport for their continued support. We are a voluntary service so help from businesses such as MIS Motorsport is vital in ensuring we can continue to provide the best quality motorsport rescue service.”
The EMMU rescue service is based in Morecambe and they cover events all over the UK including providing cover for the Ford World Rally Team test days. More information can be found on

Sunday 9 March 2014

Overheating problems end Wright’s Malcolm Wilson rally hopes

Bentham rally driver David Wright had a disappointing Malcolm Wilson rally last weekend when overheating problems forced him out of the event.
Wright’s rally got off to a bad start when just half a mile into the opening Comb stage the Kumho Tyres, Drenth, Owen Developments and Grove Hill Garage-supported GPM Mitsubishi Evo 9 started to overheat. The car went into “safe mode” and Wright had to struggle around the rest of the stage. Despite this he still set 12th fastest time.

There were three stages to go before service, two runs of Wythop and one of Greystoke. Although the car was not at 100% Wright managed to set two 6th fastest times and one 8th fastest.
The service halt was spent attempting to fix the cooling issues and Wright and co-driver Michael Wilkinson set off for three stages in Grizedale forest. However, on the road section Wright noticed that the engine had built up pressure so he decided to retire rather than risk further damage.
“After all the hard work by GPM to get the car ready for the event it’s really disappointing to have had to retire,” said Wright. “We had high hopes of getting a podium finish but they were dashed after around 30 seconds of stage one.”
“We carried on through the rest of the morning stages and had hoped we could get the car fixed in service but the pressure build up showed there was still a problem. It wasn’t worth the risk of causing a lot of damage so we pulled out on the road section to Grizedale.”
“We’re concentrating on getting our new Focus ready for the next BTRDA championship round in Somerset now, hopefully the engine parts we need will be sorted and fitted. We don’t have a lot of time but we’ll do our best to be on the start line in Minehead.”
The Somerset Stages, round 3 of the BTRDA rally championship, takes place on 12th April.

Images from the Malcolm Wilson rally

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Tuesday 4 March 2014

Successful Saltire for Rally2Raise team

The Rally2Raise team of Rachel Clark and Gary Simpson headed to Perthshire last weekend to take part in the Edradour Saltire Classic rally. The organisers, the Saltire Rally Club, have supported Rally2Raise since 2012 and as part of the support they let the Rally2Raise rally car run as the course car on the event.
The rally started from the Birnam hotel on a cold and clear morning with a wide variety of cars lining up ready to tackle the route and tests which would take them up towards Pitlochry, across to Loch Tummel and then north towards Blair Atholl.
The opening test was in a forest just outside of Dunkeld. The team’s Nissan Micra struggled to get traction on the very slippery and steep track but the test was successfully negotiated.  A further nine tests took place in quick succession including one at the distillery of event sponsor Edradour which involved negotiating a course marked out by whisky barrels.
“The first few tests went well,” said Rachel. “Most were extremely slippery and, even though we’ve only got a 1300cc Micra, it was a struggle to find grip. Fortunately we didn’t suffer a repeat of last year where the exhaust manifold broke early on.”
After a lunch halt on the shore of Loch Tummel the Rally2Raise crew completed another test before the highlight of their event, a 12 mile section through a snowy Errochty forest. From there the rally headed back towards Dunkeld via Blair Atholl and the south side of Loch Tummel, taking in seven more tests before the finish.
“Errochty was fantastic, I’ve driven it on the McRae Stages rally but this was the first time I’ve seen it in the snow. The roads were pretty icy and it would’ve been easy to slide off but we completed the section with no problems. The remaining tests were fine and we made it back to the finish in one piece.”
After the rally a raffle was held in aid of “Funding the fuel for Flynny” which included prizes donated by Penny Street Boutique Lancaster, Motorsport Mugs, Colin Wallace, Martin Steele, Willie Greig, 2013 rally winners Noel Cochrane and Olly McCollum, Life Memories Photography and Songasport. A total of £270 was raised.
“Thanks to everyone who donated a prize and bought a raffle ticket, we were delighted with the amount raised. Thanks also to Colin Wallace and his team at the Saltire Rally Club for letting us run on a brilliant event, we had a great time.”
For more information on Rally2Raise please visit or

Monday 3 March 2014

Wright looking to get rally season off to flying start

Bentham rally driver David Wright will start his rally season next weekend when he contests round two of the BTRDA rally championship, the Malcolm Wilson rally.
Having sold the Mitsubishi Evo 9 he had used for the last three years Wright was hoping to debut his new Ford Focus WRC on the Cumbrian event but the car is awaiting engine parts so a back-up plan has been put into action.
“The pistons for the Focus are still in America with Cosworth so we’ve had to sort another car to contest the Malcolm Wilson rally,” said Wright. “We’ve got the Mitsubishi Evo 9 that we won the 2009 BTRDA title in. It’s taken a lot of work but we’ve managed to get it into pretty much the same specification as the car we used last year.”
“We’ll struggle to match the pace of the world rally class cars but we’ll be pushing hard in what are some of my favourite stages in rallying and hopefully we can target a podium finish. We’re planning to test the car ahead of the rally which should iron out any problems.”
The Evo will be supported by Kumho Tyres, Drenth, Grove Hill Garage, GPM and Owen Developments.
The Malcolm Wilson rally starts from Cockermouth on Saturday morning and the crews will be tested over some of the classic Lake District stages including Comb, Wythop and Grizedale.

Sunday 12 January 2014

Another successful year for Rally2Raise

The Rally2Raise motorsport team had another successful year in 2013 when it raised over £1,400 for the Nystagmus Network and contested four rounds of the Scottish Rally Championship (SRC).

The team was formed in late 2011 with the aim of raising funds and awareness for charities. The first full year of the project saw over £2,500 raised for four charitable causes. For 2013 the team decided to continue supporting one of those causes, the Nystagmus Network. Nystagmus is a presently incurable eye condition which Rally2Raise founder Rachel Clark’s son suffers from so it is a cause particularly close to her heart.

The team’s season started with the Saltire Classic rally in March. The organisers, the Saltire Rally Club, supported Rally2Raise in 2012 and they kindly continued their support this year. Rachel drove the Rally2Raise Nissan Micra as course car on the event with Gary Simpson making his debut in the navigator’s seat. Despite severe exhaust manifold problems they managed to get to the finish where plenty of cash was raised with a raffle.

Following the Saltire rally the hunt was on for sponsorship to enable the team to run in selected Scottish Rally Championship rounds. Thanks to the support of E.Watson and Son, BSW Ltd Contracting Services, Pirelli, AW Motorsport, McPherson Document Solutions, Charles Derby Ecosse, San Juan Services and Halo Lettings, Rachel and co-driver Katherine Begg were able to enter the Granite City rally in April. A strong run on the events first two stages was sadly ended when the car clipped a bridge and bent the rear beam, forcing retirement.

The team’s next event was the Scottish rally in Dumfries. With Katherine suffering an illness Caroline Lodge took over on the pacenotes. A brilliant performance saw Rachel presented with the trophy for being the fastest lady driver at the events ceremonial finish in the town centre in front of a large crowd of spectators.

Following the Scottish the team contested the Elgin-based Speyside Stages rally. Although the car suffered major gearbox problems Rachel brought it home for another good result.

The team’s final event of the year was the Merrick Stages which used the classic Scottish rally stages around Newton Stewart. The season was rounded off in great style with a second in class finish.
Fundraising events, including a virtual navigational rally, continued after the Merrick and thanks to the generosity of those who supported the project the total raised was over £1,400.
“It has been another good year for Rally2Raise,” said Rachel. “The rally community has once again been hugely generous in supporting us and I am very happy that we’ve managed to raise almost £4,000 for charity in two years as well as raising awareness of lesser known causes such as the Nystagmus Network.”
“Thanks to the amazing help given to us by our sponsors we were able to contest four Scottish Rally Championship events and I’m pleased with how those went. It’s difficult trying to compete with cars that have two or three times the power of our Micra has but it was great fun trying and we got some good results.”
“We’re planning to continue with Rally2Raise in 2014 but we’ll have to see how the rally budget goes before deciding whether to compete on any SRC events. The Saltire Rally Club have kindly invited us to be course car on the Saltire Classic event again in March though so we'll definitely be doing one rally.”
“I’d like to thank our sponsors whose support enabled us to contest the events and also everyone who has donated money and taken part in our fundraising activities.”
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