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Duns rally driver Garry Pearson led a Motorsport UK British Rally Championship round for the first time in his career last weekend, topping the timesheets after the opening leg of the final round of the series, the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally [28-29 October].

The Skoda Fabia R5 driver set the fastest overall time over the gruelling closed-road asphalt “Nebo” test on the Friday night, beating World Rally Championship ace Oliver Solberg in the process. He and co-driver Dale Furniss would go on to challenge for the lead of the BRC the following day, before an unfortunate impact with a rock ended their season with a zero score.

Pearson would embark on his debut season in the BRC1 top-flight in 2022 after a sensational campaign saw him clinch the National, BTRDA, Welsh and Scottish championship titles last year. He would start the season behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta Rally2, with a third place at his home event, the Jim Clark Rally a highlight of the assault.

But a switch to the Hankook Tire and Asset Alliance Group-backed Skoda Fabia R5 enabled him to increase his pace further still, and he headed to the final round of the series in North Wales looking to end the season on a high.

Whilst the Cambrian Rally offered world-class stages in the North Wales forests, the event kicked off with a double pass over a seven-mile closed road test and despite having never driven the Skoda on asphalt in competition, Pearson would set the pace, winning the opening stage of the event.

He would head onto the gravel of Saturday with almost two seconds in hand. The treacherous conditions in the forests would hamper progress however, losing time in the mud-strewn initial Clocaenog test. A spin in Brenig followed, but Pearson would hold onto second in the BRC despite the time loss. The Alwen test followed, and he would begin to claw back time on the leader, reducing the gap by almost seven seconds back, setting up the fight for top spot.

Sadly, in the Penmachno stage, the Fabia clipped a hidden rock in the line, damaging the steering and forcing Pearson to park up in stage, his rally over prematurely.

“Of course, I`m gutted to have ended the rally at the side of the road after such an encouraging start,” he said.

“To take the fastest overall time on Friday night, against a World Championship driver and in unfamiliar conditions is a really encouraging marker in how our pace has improved over the last half of the season.”

“It was nice to lead the British Championship crews overnight and I certainly feel right at home in the Skoda. It was a shame the gravel didn’t treat us as kindly as the asphalt did but the margins in those stages are small and we just got unlucky sadly.”

“I`m really proud of my first season in the BRC and it’s thanks to my supporters and backers that I have been able to compete at the sharp end of the series this year. We will now be working hard over the winter to see what we can come up with for 2023, but I`m positive it will be a step forward for my rallying career.”

Pearson is supported by Asset Alliance Group, George Anderson Builders, Pearson’s of Duns, Hankook Tire Limited, John Lawrie Metals, RL Smith & Sons, Husqvarna, Border Chainsaw & Lawnmower Services, Beatson’s Building Supplies and Carbon Positive Motorsport.

Image credits: British Rally Championship

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