Scottish Rally Championship (SRC) front-runner Garry Pearson ensured his title aspirations remain firmly on track with an impressive third place at last weekend’s RSAC Scottish Rally (18th May) in Moffat, round three of the closely fought series.
Pearson and co-driver Dale Bowen secured a stage win and a string of top times on their way to a podium position in their Ford Fiesta R5 to head into the turning point of the championship with one eye on securing Pearson’s maiden SRC title.
Pearson, 27 from Duns has put in an impressive performance in 2019 after returning to the Scottish Championship from a season away. Aiming to clinch some valuable experience for the future, Pearson has also eyed the Scottish championship this year and a second place at the opening round of the season in Jedburgh ensured he started on the right foot.
An unlucky end to round two, saw a non-score in Elgin so the South of Scotland forests offered Pearson a chance to get back towards the top of the championship standings as the season heads towards the halfway point.
The competition in the SRC is some of the strongest in the UK and Pearson would be up against some of the most experienced drivers in the country. Nevertheless, the Asset Alliance Group, RAVENOL and George Anderson Builders backed Ford Fiesta pilot has enjoyed a strong showing in the region in the past and would aim to dig deep to find the pace required to be at the sharp end during the day.
Classic stages such as Ae, Castle O’er and Twiglees made up the 42 stage miles, spread across six special tests and Pearson opened his account with the equal second fastest time over the opener, stopping the clocks with a slender three seconds away from the lead of the rally.
With changeable condition during the opening loop, stages were somewhat muddier than expected and it would be difficult to judge the grip levels in the Pirelli shod machine. A third fastest time over the second test ensured Pearson remained firmly in the hunt for the lead as the crews headed into the first service halt of the day.
A trip over the West side of the M74 saw a change in characteristics of the stages which suited the Duns driver perfectly. In the Windy Hill stage, Pearson laid down the gauntlet for the others to follow, grabbing a stage win as he continued to bed into the Fiesta. Another storming run through the following Ae test saw him move up to second place overall with just two stages remaining.
But with the repeat loop suiting the more powerful World Rally Cars, despite Pearson’s best efforts, he would drop to third over the closing stages. However, he was delighted to return to Moffat to spray the champagne on the podium and take valuable points in his SRC title quest.
“We worked really hard for this result today and I’m really over the moon to grab third place against some of the most experienced drivers out there today,” said Pearson.
“We didn’t quite have enough pace this afternoon to make our second-place stick, but you know these guys are out every single weekend so, with the limited amount of seat time I get in the Fiesta, I`m really happy with third today”.
Pearson has been focusing on the championship and believes that this podium will be key for the title fight towards the end of the year.
“I knew that a good result today was going to be critical to stay in the running for the championship, so we have certainly delivered that today. The next round (Argyll Rally) should suit us well as the stages are very technical so I’m excited to see how we perform there. As long as we keep proving ourselves then I’m sure the results will come.”
The next round of the championship takes place at the end of June in Dunoon for the Argyll Rally.
Pearson is supported by Asset Alliance Group, George Anderson Builders, Pearson’s of Duns, RAVENOL, Pirelli, Dom Buckley RSC, Faithful Tools, CPL, RL Smith & Sons, Hargreaves, Hotmax, Crailing Toft Potatoes, Bedmax and 3D Transport.