2016 Scottish Rally Championship runner-up Garry Pearson will be aiming to finally get his season underway this weekend, as he tackles the Jedburgh based Border Counties Rally (16th March).
After the opening round of the 2019 KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship was cancelled due to the thick ice in the Highlands at the Snowman Rally, the second round now becomes the season opener and takes crews into the super-fast Kielder forests of the North East and the South of Scotland.
Pearson, 27 years old from Duns will enjoy his shortest trip to a rally this season as he bids to kick-start his campaign behind the wheel of the wheel of an Asset Alliance Group & George Anderson Builders backed Ford Fiesta R5.
Returning for a full championship assault for the first time since 2016, he will be up against one of the strongest gathering of top-ten rivals for many years, all eager to finally get their championship aspirations underway with a perfect score.
Co-driven by Welshman Dale Bowen, Pearson believes the Border will be one of the toughest challenges of the season as everyone begins to find the pace required to be towards the top of the leader board.
“I think having the Border Counties as the new first round is a bit more of a leveller really and will allow us to see where we are and ultimately where we need to be much earlier on,” he says.
“If we started at the Snowman, the stage times can be a bit skewed because of the conditions so we should have a much clearer idea of what will be required from pretty much the first stage”.
Pearson has used the extra time before the first rally of the year to gain additional seat time in the potent Fiesta with a pre-event test last week. He has also been able to gain the support of leading lubricant firm RAVENOL for the season ahead.
“I`m delighted to welcome Ravenol on board as a technical partner in 2019,” says Pearson.
“They are very much a well-respected worldwide brand so its great to have their support during my SRC campaign and their products will undoubtedly give us the edge this season”.
And Pearson will need to call upon every ounce of experience he has next weekend. With six stages and over 40 miles of competitive action ahead, he will be up against some stiff opposition in the Border forests.
“There are some heavy-hitters on the entry list and many past champions too, so it won’t be an easy task being out front on Saturday,” he says.
“I remember this event well and historically I’ve always gone well in the Borders. Its always been a close rally and I tied on times with Jock (Armstrong) in 2016, only losing out on the tie-break so I know I`m capable. But then when you look at the rest of the top ten, I need to keep focused. It’s a long season and the points will be very valuable so we will have to balance the desire for being out front and a good score.”
Pearson is supported by Asset Alliance Group, George Anderson Builders, Pearsons of Duns, RAVENOL, Pirelli, Dom Buckley RSC, Faithful Tools, CPL, Hargreaves, Hotmax, Bedmax and 3D Transport.