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Duns rally driver Garry Pearson believes he is “still in the fight” for the 2019 KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship (SRC) despite his non-finish at last weekend’s Speyside Stages in Elgin (20th April).

Pearson, along with co-driver Dale Bowen, returned an impressive performance over the first six stages of the ten-test event. Pushing his Ravenol Oils, Asset Alliance Group & George Anderson Builders backed Ford Fiesta R5 to its limits in the quest to catch the more powerful World Rally Car of the leader, Pearson was unlucky to put the Buckley RSC run machine on its side in the seventh test and into retirement.

The rapid 27-year-old enjoyed a confidence-boosting start to his Scottish Rally Championship campaign on the opening round of the series in February, taking second place overall on his home event the Border Counties Rally. His top result was despite a spin and being out of the car for almost twelve months, and he would head North to Elgin with one eye on the top step of the podium.

The popular event would kick off in the town’s Cooper Park for a short blast on the asphalt roads around the centre which would be quickly repeated. Whilst it may not have been indicative of rest of the rally’s eight stages, Pearson was aware the rally could be lost in the Park and would have a cautious approach.

He emerged sixth but just five seconds shy of the lead. The eight remaining forest tests would all be short blasts, not more than seven miles in length and Pearson would need to knuckle down on each stage to bridge the gap to the leaders. Third fastest times over the third and fourth stages marked his intentions, but the fifth saw him take his first overall quickest time of the event to see him sit comfortably in third and hunting down second spot.

Another top three time on the sixth test followed but stage seven would mark the end of the rally for Pearson, putting the Fiesta slowly onto its side after a mound on the inside of the corner clipped the front wheel left wheel. Over seven minutes were lost before the car could be righted and Pearson would still record a time, but elected to save the car and would not continue.

He was understandably despondent with the non-finish.

“It was just one of those things and if I had been a few inches to the right, it would have been fine,” he said.

“It just tipped up onto it’s side and by the time we had got some help to push it back, the time had gone. There isn’t really any damage at all so we could have continued but we need to conserve the car for the next event so we couldn’t risk it. Of course, I`m disappointed with how today has ended but there are some positives to take away from the weekend and that’s what I`m focusing on.

His non-finish in the Highlands puts him outside of the top five in the hotly contested SRC, but firmly believes he is still in with a chance at the title.

“I know we have the pace to be at the very front of the SRC and that is really what I’m concentrating on right now. The other guys they are are out every weekend getting seat time and budget constraints mean I can’t do that, so we must make the best of what we have. To come to an SRC event and be setting fastest overall times is really encouraging so I just need to string it all together and get that win under my belt. If we can continue that, then the title isn’t as far away as it seems. I must say thanks to all my sponsors for their support and faith, hopefully, I can repay their trust on the next round”.

The third round of the Scottish Rally Championship, The RSAC Scottish Rally, takes place in Moffat on the 18th May.

Pearson is supported by Asset Alliance Group, George Anderson Builders, Pearsons of Duns, RAVENOL, Pirelli, Dom Buckley RSC, Faithful Tools, CPL, Hargreaves, Hotmax, Bedmax, RL Smith and 3D Transport.

Image credits: Alistair Farquhar & Jasper Images

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