Sykes grabs second in Galloway.
Stourbridge rally driver Richard Sykes narrowly missed out on maximum Peugeot 206 Winter Cup points at this weekend's Galloway Hills Rally. After three punctures on the five stage event, Sykes did a superb job to finish just six seconds away from the top spot of the podium in his Peugeot 206 XSi.
A popular Peugeot 206 Super Cup competitor, Trade Paints Services supported Sykes was partnered for the event in the southern Scottish forests by Mark McAllister, an Irishman who had flown in specially from his home in New York, USA for the rally.
With the event being the first round of three Winter Cup rounds before next season's Peugeot 206 Super Cup gets underway on the Rally of Wales, Sykes was looking to grab maximum points despite a strong entry of old and new 206 cup rivals.
A puncture towards the end of the first stage was a sign of things to come for the man from the Midlands. Backed by Peugeot dealer Quicks and G.I. Sykes Ltd, Richard kept his foot in for the second stage and was right at the sharp end of the leaderboard with York's Olly Marshal. Richard's pace was all the more impressive given that his new co-driver was struggling with the pace notes and Sykes was driving sections of the stage "blind".
Dalbeattie, a typically challenging Scottish forest stage, was not kind to the Peugeot's, and Sykes in particular. The extremely rough surface punctured another tyre, breaking the wheel and bending a strut in the process. Sterling work by the service crew from MBA Racing (they later received the Service Crew of the Event Award for their effort) allowed Sykes to return to the stages with the car in full working order, and going into the last stage, he held a slender lead over the chasing pack.
Unfortunately, Sykes was mis-informed that he held a 15 second lead over second placed Phillip Morrow. The reality was that Sykes was just 4 seconds ahead of the young Irish driver. As Sykes eased off with yet another puncture through the final stage, Morrow mounted an almighty charge to take victory by just 6 seconds.
Despite missing out on the win, the 36 year old was upbeat about the remainder of the Winter Cup rounds:
"I'm glad to have finished second given the punctures we had today. Mark struggled to get to grips with the pace notes so that also gave me a few problems unfortunately. As usual the competition was extremely fierce and I was disappointed to finish second in the end. A lot of the time lost was due to me having to brake for jumps and crests that I couldn't see over as a result of driving "blind".
With that in mind, finishing second by six seconds is a very good result and I'm very optimistic of my chances in the Peugeot 206 Winter Cup now. Punctures aside, the Racing Services prepared 206 ran superbly and I will take a lot of confidence towards the final two rounds of the series. I will certainly be giving it my best for the next round, but with the Peugeot's, anything can happen!"
The second round of the series will take place on the Red Kite Rally based in Llandovery in Mid Wales on the 5th of January 2003.