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rs15_riponian01Stourbridge rally driver Richard Sykes endured a tough debut event for his new Citroën DS3 on the Riponian rally but he battled through several setbacks to take a class win.

The 2012 British Rally Championship Challenge champion entered the Thirsk-based event to get some valuable mileage in the G I Sykes Ltd, Boroughbridge Marina, Bathams Brewery and Body Clinic-supported DS3 ahead of his planned BTRDA Mixed Surface title campaign.

Sykes rally got off to a bad start as the car left the road and landed in a ditch just three corners into the first stage. Things did not improve on stage two as another excursion left the car on its side, both incidents costing Sykes valuable time and dropping him down the leaderboard. A time penalty for arriving too early at a stage compounded the disappointing start.

“Due to our lack of knowledge of the car the set-up was all wrong and I couldn’t keep it in a straight line making it very difficult to drive, the conditions were very wet and slippery so it was not ideal for learning a new car,” said Sykes.  “We escaped from the two offs with relatively minor damage but we lost a lot of time. My co-driver Simon Taylor was also very rusty after not competing for 18 months off and we gained a three minute penalty with a timing error on top of the time lost in the offs which meant we were second from last after three stages, not the start I had hoped for.”

Sykes battled on and steadily climbed the leaderboard over the remaining stages, including setting one equal fastest stage time and regular top six overall times. Their persistence was rewarded with a class win, secured on the final stage by just three seconds.

“The day got better after our poor start. We had some problems with the car stalling on the start line as I tried using the very complicated launch control and I was finding it hard to build confidence but we were getting quicker on the later stages. I was delighted to share the fastest overall stage time on one stage, especially against four wheel drive world championship car opposition, and to win the class despite our troubles is very pleasing. There’s definitely a lot more to come from the new car and I’m looking forward to seeing what it can do.”

“It’s still two months until the Mixed Surface championship starts so I’m looking to do a days testing to learn some set up and another event before then, probably Rally North Wales in March. Thanks to all my sponsors for their support.”

Image courtesy of Phill Andrews.

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