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 Citro├źn 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 raceandrally.co.uk