Sykes all set for Winter Cup showdown

Richard Sykes heads to the Sunseeker Rally in Bournemouth on February the 22nd with every chance of lifting the crown as Peugeot 206 Winter Cup Rally Champion. The Quicks for Peugeot supported Stourbridge driver battled through some of the most...

Richard Sykes heads to the Sunseeker Rally in Bournemouth on February the 22nd with every chance of lifting the crown as Peugeot 206 Winter Cup Rally Champion. The Quicks for Peugeot supported Stourbridge driver battled through some of the most challenging stages in his rallying career to take second place in the popular 206 category on Sunday's Red Kite Rally, held in freezing South Wales.

Trade Paint Services backed Sykes led for seven of the rally's nine special stages, only to spin on sheet ice on the final stage of the event, dropping around 15 seconds to eventual 206 victor Leon Pesticcio. With Welshpool co-driver Craig Parry alongside, Sykes had been looking to go one better after finishing second on the opening round of the Winter series, the Galloway Hills Rally in Scotland.

Icy conditions greeted the crews at the start of the Llandovery based event, and after posting second fastest time on the first stage, G.I. Sykes Ltd backed Richard moved up a gear to take the lead on the second stage of the rally. After 5 stages, the Midlander had built up a 9 second lead as he used all his skill to keep the two wheel drive Peugeot on the road as the stages went from gravel to sheet ice in an instant.

A rear puncture on the 6th stage cost 5 seconds, and at final service, with just two more stages left to go, Sykes held a slender two second lead in his MBA Racing run Peugeot.

"I had a good feeling for the penultimate stage and I really pushed on in that one. We managed to take 7 seconds off Leon in there, and going into the final stage I felt that 9 seconds would be enough if we kept our pace up.

Unfortunately, there was a notorious square right that was covered in ice, and we slipped off the road and into a muddy ditch on the last stage. I think we lost about 15 seconds getting back onto the road, and if I'm honest, I was so furious with myself for making an error like that I didn't drive well for the rest of the stage. Over forty other cars went off at the same bend, so it wasn't just us.

As a result, Leon picked our pockets and took the win by 5 seconds. I'm extremely disappointed as its two rallies in a row now where I've been less than 5 seconds away from the top step of the podium."

Two second place finishes mean that Sykes now has a total of 50 points after two of the three rounds. Pesticcio finished fourth on the first round, and combined with the win in Wales also gives him 50 points. Its therefore a straight winner takes all battle on the final round in Bournemouth, and Sykes is relishing the opportunity already:

"Leon is a quick guy, so I'm sure he'll be going well on the South coast next month. I'm very confident of my chances on the rally, although I will have a new co-driver for that one. My pace has been very strong on the first two rounds, and if we don't have any problems, I'm sure that we'll be right on the pace for that one as well.

The car has been excellent so far, the boys at Racing Services and MBA Racing have done a great job in preparing and running the 206 XSi, so hopefully it will be third time lucky for me and I can finally grab the win, and the 206 Winter Cup title."

Sykes will be partnered by Sheffield's Simon Coates for the Sunseeker Rally. Simon will celebrate his 40th birthday on the day of the rally, and having also won his class on the event in 2002, Richard is hoping that his new co-driver will be a lucky omen for the day.

-jemsport-

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Series Other rally
Drivers Leon Pesticcio , Craig Parry