Duns rally driver Garry Pearson has his sights set firmly on becoming Scottish Rally Champion, after laying down his intentions to mount a full assault on the series in 2019.
After narrowly missing out on taking the prestigious title in 2016, the Scottish Borders resident will be looking to go one better than his runner up spot three years ago and fend off around 100 other competitors in the race for the top step of the podium in the KNC Groundworks Motorsport UK Scottish Rally Championship.
Backed by sponsors Asset Alliance Group & George Anderson Builders, Pearson will drive a top-spec Dom Buckley RSC prepared Ford Fiesta R5 in the all-gravel series. Seven rounds lie ahead across Scotland and with the season-opening Coogie Urquhart Snowman Rally just weeks away, the championship kicks off in the Scottish Highlands in early February.
At just 27 years old, Pearson is widely recognised as one of the leading rally drivers in Scotland. Competing in Autocross as a teenager, he soon progressed into stage rallying thanks to being spurred on by the Duns based Jim Clark Rally which saw some of the best rally drivers in the country pass his door every year.
His talent soon shone through, and after two years honing his skills on a wide range of events, he would campaign a Renault Twingo in the British Rally Championship in 2012, duly winning the Twingo Trophy & Junior British Rally Championship.
Three seasons in the Junior R2 category saw him gain the experience to progress both at home and in Europe, before stepping up into four-wheel drive machinery in 2016. In his debut year, he secured his inaugural overall rally win on the Speyside Stages and only missed out on becoming Scottish champion thanks to a broken exhaust manifold on the closing stage of the rally.
Now, Pearson will return to the series for a second attempt at taking the title and feels he has unfinished business in the championship.
“I think 2016 was one of the closest finishes in the history of the Scottish Rally Championship and when you think that it’s 51 years old this year, it really says something,” says Pearson.
“I was really very proud of my achievements that year and whilst I was gutted not to have won, I knew I had what it takes to beat some of the quickest guys in the UK at the time. We went into the final stage, of the final event in the championship just 12 seconds behind Jock Armstrong and had pretty much secured the title, but we didn’t make it out of the stage.
Sadly, I only contested one rally in 2017 and last year only saw sporadic outings, but the desire to get back on top was as great as ever. This season will certainly be about the title and my goal is most certainly to become Scottish Champion in 2019. I feel I have something to prove and show my full potential”.
Pearson has secured the services of experienced co-driver Dale Bowen for his title tilt and feels he is more prepared than ever for the season ahead.
“We had two good outings towards the back end of last season to get back into the swing of things and without putting any pressure on myself, finished second overall on both events” he continues.
“I’m under no illusion that the pace in the SRC is mega and there is some serious competition to beat. But that’s the draw for me. I love the camaraderie and atmosphere that the championship offers, but when we are on the stages it’s as serious as ever, we all want to win. I’m proud to have the backing of world-class manufacturers such as Ravenol and Pirelli who will certainly help us have the edge when we need it”.
He believes getting a good score on the opening round on February 9th will be valuable to his season’s goals.
“I’ve always liked the Snowman Rally,” he says.
“I’ll always have good memories of the event as it was where I made my R5 debut and only my second time driving a four-wheel-drive. In typical fashion, it was heavy snow which made it rather interesting, but we were fastest overall on the second stage of the event. Inverness is one of these places I always love competing in and no matter if it’s, wet, snow or dry we’ll do our best to finish on one of the top spots. A podium here will set us up nicely for the rest of the year.”
Pearson is supported by Asset Alliance Group, George Anderson Builders, Pirelli, Ravenol, Dom Buckley RSC and 3D Transport.