As a number of other Peugeot 206 Super Cup crews found the challenges of the Epynt Military Ranges a little too tough to handle, the consistent Richard Sykes struggled with an event long engine and handling problem to claim 7th in the series on...
As a number of other Peugeot 206 Super Cup crews found the challenges of the Epynt Military Ranges a little too tough to handle, the consistent Richard Sykes struggled with an event long engine and handling problem to claim 7th in the series on this weekend's Harry Flatters Rally.
The Trade Paints Services backed Stourbridge driver was looking forward to the South Wales event near Brecon before the rally. The challenges proposed by the legendary tarmac venue would make for one of the most wide open rounds of the championship this year. Sykes and Chelmsford co-driver Mark Andrews knew that they would have their work cut out to keep with the tarmac experts at the front of the field, and they got off to a good start.
Running inside the top six after the second stage, Sykes hit a large pothole on one of the triangle junctions in the third stage. Immediately Richard felt a handling problem with the G.I. Sykes backed 206, and the impact was so hard it also bent a driveshaft. Worse still for Sykes, an immediate loss of engine power left him around 20% down on power compared to the rest of the field. It had not been a good stage for the courageous Midlander!
At service, no obvious engine problem could be found, the bent driveshaft was replaced, but yet the handling problem remained on the next loop of stages. A change of brake disc didn't cure the problem either, so Sykes was forced to complete the rest of the two day event with a down on power engine and very 'interesting' handling. With six gear corners, big jumps and flat out blind crests, it was not an idea recipe for good result.
Nevertheless, Sykes kept at it. Despite the time loss due to the lack of engine power, Richard continued to drive at absolutely 100% all through the rally. Co-driver Andrews commented that Sykes could not have driven the car any faster in the condition it was in. On the final stage, the pair were too far behind 6th to offer a real challenge, and too far in front of 8th to worry about being caught. With a couple of cars catching him on the final sting in the tail, it was a relieved Richard who crossed the finish line to notch up and impressive sixth point score from six starts this year:
"Its been a difficult rally to sum up. On the one hand the stages were extremely challenging, and you really had to respect the venue. The slightest mistake would put you off the road and it was almost inevitable that you would roll or damage the car. On the other hand, we didn't make any mistakes all weekend, but it was extremely frustrating to have the engine and handling problems that we did. We think that the inlet manifold for the engine may have broken when we hit the pothole, hence the lack of power. Things are close enough when the car is operating at 100% so having a car performing at 75% just gives you no chance. The championship is that strong!"
The MPM Motorsport and Racing Services maintained machine will now have a full inspection and be restored to the fullest of health before the next round of the series, the Ulster Rally, on September 6/7. Sykes will be determined to make it seven scores from seven starts as the season enters its critical stage.