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2012 NGK Spark Plugs BRC Challenge champion driver Richard Sykes has been involved in four wheeled motorsport for a long time. But the Midlands businessman still loves it and took time to chat about his championship winning season ahead of defending his title.

Q: It has been some years since you won the BTRDA Rallycross championship in a Mini. What made you switch to rallying?

A: I had been Rallycrossing for about four years and initially really enjoyed it. There are only a small number of circuits, but two things spring to mind that made my mind up to try something different.

There was a guy in a Porsche doing the same events as me and while I could get past the front wheel drive cars, this thing was always sideways and about five metres wide when I tried to overtake. It starts to wear you down after a while! But the main reason came in 1992 when I drove chase car for a guy doing the RAC Rally. I thought, ‘This is the sport for me!’ It took me about four years to get round to it and raise enough funds to get involved properly, but I have loved it ever since.

Q: You never fill in your date of birth on entry forms. I dare you to reveal your age now!

A: It is no secret that I’m a bit older than most of the pups doing the BRC and Challenge. I just don’t want to show them up by admitting to being old enough to be their dad. In answer to your question I have just turned 47, so there’s plenty of life left in this old dog!

Q: You’ve contested Peugeot, Suzuki and Citroën one make series. What was the appeal?

A: Simple. The cars don’t make any difference, so it is just down to driver and co-driver and obviously the team behind them. I have competed against some of the best drivers in one make series; Mark Donnelly, Ryan Champion, Rory Galligan, Garry Jennings & Shaun Gallagher to name but a few. I’ve also mixed it with the best in the world too, back in 2000 and 2001 we competed directly against Bryan Bouffier and Sébastien Loeb. They beat me, but at least I could say it was a fair fight.

Q: Why does the BRC Challenge appeal to you?

A: There is great camaraderie amongst the competitors whilst still having healthy competition. Look at the battles that have taken place over the last couple of years; you can never tell who is going to win an event – or the championship for that matter. Being class based makes it fair for everyone. I reckon I could have won in 2007, 2008 and 2009, but for mechanical problems and an occasional off.

My seasons in the British Rally Championship were the most character building ever and it took more commitment than I was prepared to give. Running my own successful business meant I really didn’t have the time and so when I decided to move back to the Challenge, it was a lot less pressure which meant I could actually have more fun.

Q: How much commitment does it take to contest a national championship like the BRC or BRCC?

A: You have to be fully committed to do any championship, but having done both, the Challenge gives you a nice introduction and involvement with the BRC. It’s an ideal start for guys with ambition to be British Champion or higher, some of our front-running British drivers have come via the BRC Challenge route. At the same time, it’s a perfect place for competitors like me who now just want to have fun on great events, with close competition between mates.

Q: Can you reveal how much you think it cost to win the BRC Challenge last year?

A: A difficult question, because I have sponsors and we now look after the car ourselves. But if I were pushed, I reckon you could do a good job and be in with a chance of winning for about 15 to 18 thousand without the cost of a car.
Q: What are your plans for 2013?

A: That’s an easy one – the BRC Challenge again. After all, now I’ve got a title I’ve got to defend it!

For more information on the NGK Spark Plugs BRC Challenge visit http://www.rallybrc.co.uk

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