Sykes wins as Champion falters The final rally in the 008 Silverstone Tyres BRC Challenge dawned wet and windy, going some way to live up to the event's Tempest title. The Suzuki South of England Tempest Rally ran as two events, the...
Sykes wins as Champion falters
The final rally in the 008 Silverstone Tyres BRC Challenge dawned wet and windy, going some way to live up to the event's Tempest title.
The Suzuki South of England Tempest Rally ran as two events, the two wheel drive section accommodating three BRCC competitors who were up for a no pressure fight to the finish.
After a frustrating season Richard Sykes had top seeding of the three in his Fiesta, but family commitments meant that regular co-driver Simon Taylor could not attend, stand-in Bradley Magnus called in at he eleventh hour.
"We're out to try and win the Tempest 2 Rally outright after we led early on last year," said the Stourbridge driver, "I think we've sorted all the driveshaft problems that have plagued us since theIsle of Man, but it is going to be difficult as the competition is more fierce this year."
David Harrison and Glyn Thomas wheeled out their screaming Peugeot 106 for one last time before their prize drive on Wales Rally GB in December, hoping to continue their excellent form this year with another victory over Sykes. "We're doing the rally for a crack at Richard and at the overall event win." said David, "but we're really out for a bit of fun now the pressure for the Championship is off."
James Watts and Oliver Ettlinger had a definite goal in their sights though; to take second overall in the BRCC. But they were the first to return to the service ahead of the rest when a driveshaft failed on the Rushmoor spectator stage. "We're gutted," he said, "especially as we could probably have repaired it and gone back out, but when we opened the box with the spare, we discovered it was broken too."
The retirement left Harrison and Sykes to push each other for the win, but news filtered back to the now sunny service area that Sykes has broken a driveshaft despite all the work to resolve the problem.
Arriving late into service Sykes was obviously annoyed as he explained, "We were carrying a spare shaft and all the tools to change it, but I hoped we wouldn't need to. We've spent ages trying to diagnose why it kept breaking and thought we'd found it. The fact that we changed the thing in less than 15 minutes at the roadside doesn't really matter; we've lost so much time now."
The time loss should have made Harrison's victory secure, but unbeknown to the youngster, he had been heavily penalised for missing a chicane on the previous stage, which had dropped him to within a minute of Sykes. This, coupled with Harrison's failing fuel pressure meant the potential for Sykes to regain the lead was strong.
The decision was made in favour of Sykes on the penultimate stage though, when Harrison slid into a ditch in the returned appalling weather conditions. The resulting time loss left him with a stage maximum, handing victory to the recovering Midlander.
"We thought it was all over when the 'shaft broke," explained Sykes, "but David has had real problems too today and it is really good to get to the finish after the problems we've had this year."
With the season now at a close all that remains is for Champions Harrison and Thomas to take their place at the wheel of their prize MG on the final round of the World and British Rally Championships, Wales Rally GB in early December.