STOURBRIDGE rally star Richard Sykes got his BRC Challenge season back on track with second at the Jim Clark Rally.

Sykes finished first in class at the event around the Scottish borders and is now second overall in the standings.

Delays saw the rally’s opening stage cancelled but when things did get under way, Sykes was quickly on the pace.

He caught and passed Richard Archer after seven miles of the first stage, only for his Citroën C2 R2 Max to pick up a puncture which cost time and meant he was only fifth fastest.

The puncture damaged the wing and bumper, with the wheel arch liner also catching fire. Fortunately the fire was put out with a fire extinguishers at the finish control.

Sykes and co-driver Simon Taylor were able to change the tyre before the next stage but with the car running slicks on the front and intermediates on the rear, the handling was all over the place.

Sykes explained: “With the changeable weather we wanted to cover the possibility of rain with our choice of spare.

“Getting the puncture meant we had to put one of the intermediates on the front and a wet weather tyre on the back, running three different compounds certainly made things interesting!”

Despite his tyre trouble, Sykes pushed hard and set some excellent times, including fastest time on the Fogo stage, a time which would’ve put him in the top-five had he been contesting the international running at the same time.

By mid-event service, he was up to second, 25 seconds behind the leader and a flying run of the long Abbey St Bathans stage saw it reduced to three.

Two super-fast stages remained but on the first of these Sykes made an error and dropped to 14 seconds off the lead.

With championship points being vital he decided to settle for second place rather than risk an accident in the last stage.

He said: “It’s a little disappointing. Our second run of the Abbey stage showed that the puncture cost us around 48 seconds so it looks like without it we would’ve won.

“Our aim for the rally was to get a good haul of points though so we’ve definitely achieved that.”