Richard Sykes Winter Series Sunseeker summary

Shocker for Sykes at Sunseeker showdown. Stourbridge rally man Richard Sykes gave his all at last weekend's Rallye Sunseeker in Bournemouth, but a mechanical failure midway through the rally denied him victory and the Peugeot 206 Winter Cup ...

Shocker for Sykes at Sunseeker showdown.

Stourbridge rally man Richard Sykes gave his all at last weekend's Rallye Sunseeker in Bournemouth, but a mechanical failure midway through the rally denied him victory and the Peugeot 206 Winter Cup title.

Partnered by Chelmsford co-driver Mark Andrews, Sykes had to finish ahead of rival Leon Pesticcio to claim the title, and in an ironic twist of fate, Leon was also forced to retire with mechanical failure - one stage before the luckless Sykes.

Trade Paint Services backed Richard was keyed up for the rally from the word go. The unique Bournemouth based event uses a mixture of tarmac and gravel stages, including a blast along the seafront in the host town to start and finish the event. Sykes admitted to making an error on the opening stage, with the brakes set up for gravel and not tarmac, he spun towards the end of the short 1.7 mile test, losing six seconds.

Despite dropping to outside the leading ten of the 206 Winter Cup regulars, Sykes immediately bounced back up the leaderboard in his G.I. Sykes Ltd and Racing Services prepared 206, to hold a top five placing at first service. Unfazed by his early morning spin, Sykes was determined to claw back the deficit and stamp his authority on the leaderboard. Richard and Mark decided that they would strike on the long 10 mile Mount Ararat test. Unfortunately for the plucky Midlander, disaster was to strike six miles into the stage.

"The stage was going really well to that point, really flowing" said Richard. "About six miles in I felt something go in the transmission, and I thought that we had popped a driveshaft in the ruts. The outer CV joint had failed, and in the process, it was causing the differential plates to heat up to the point where we had little or no drive.

We crawled out of the stage and we desperately tried to keep going. I must thank fellow 206 Winter Cup driver Shane McCarthy for his help in trying to get us to the next stage, but unfortunately we were facing a no win situation and had to call it a day."

The shock retirements of favourites Sykes and Pesticcio allowed Welsh teenager Stuart Jones to creep in to claim the Winter Cup honours. Despite bitter disappointment, Sykes was delighted for Jones and former co-driver Richard Edwards as they lifted the trophies, but clearly signalled his intentions for the year ahead in the Peugeot 206 Super Cup:

"Make no mistake, I'm going to the Rally of Wales with one thing on my mind and one thing only. I'm going there to win. Although luck hasn't been on my side in the past few months, I do feel that my driving is better than ever and I'm very confident on gravel at the moment.

The tuition I have received from David Higgins has also helped me considerably and I'm totally focused on going to Wales to score the best result possible. There's no doubt that Chris (Moore) and Shaun (Gallagher) will really take some stopping, but my luck has to change for the better sooner than later so I'm more than ready for the challenge now."

The opening round of the Peugeot 206 Super Cup takes place at the Rally of Wales, based in Wrexham, on March 22/23. The two day classic uses the world renowned gravel roads of Sweet Lamb, Hafren, Dyfi and Myherin to name a few.

-jemsport-

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers David Higgins , Leon Pesticcio , Stuart Jones