STOURBRIDGE'S Richard Sykes left the rest in his wake in the latest stage of the MSA British Rally Championship.

Competitors got off to a frantic start on the opening day of the Pirelli Carlisle RB Foundation Rally Challenge on Saturday, May 3. The stage produced it’s fair share of thrills and spills as the fast tracks and deep ditches of the Kielder Forest claimed their usual quota of victims

The opening stage saw Graeme Sherry (Renault Clio) and Neil Moroney (Peugeot 106) sidelined while Richard Archer’s Opel Corsa, with Halesowens John Conner co-driving, slid into a ditch on stage two caused by a lost wheel when the nearside hub broke. Ross Hunter’s Peugeot also lost a wheel.

The pacesetter, however, was Sykes' Citroen C2. He ended the day with over a minute advantage on Halesowen's Neil Mathews' Vauxhall Nova.

Sykes' rapid rate of progress was undiminshed and, together with co-driver Emma Morrison, they finished overall winners of the BRC Challenge. The dogged pursuit by Neil Matthews and Claire Williams, was rewarded with a fine second place to ensure that the local Stourbridge/Halesowen rivalry is continued into the next round of the championship.

The West Midlands as a whole pretty much dominated the event when, despite the opening stage puncture, Mark Gamble and Stephen Link came home in third place overall.