Pearson landed his first-ever Motorsport UK British Rally Championship podium place by finishing third overall in the rally proper, held on Friday and Saturday, and Thorburn bounced back from having to pull out of the main event due to engine trouble late on by winning Sunday’s Jim Clark Reivers’ Rally.
“There is no better place to take your first British Rally Championship podium than in front of a home crowd,” said Pearson, 30, after notching up his best BRC top-flight result yet with co-driver Dale Furniss in their Ford Fiesta Rally2.
“It’s been such a tough weekend and the competition up front has been insanely fast, but we did all we needed to do and stuck to the plan we had before the rally, which was to get some points on the board.
“A podium is a real bonus for us but proves we have what it takes to compete at the sharp end in the UK.
“We had the confidence coming into the weekend to play our joker, which gives us three additional points in the championship, so that has worked to our advantage.
“Everything is starting to come together now.
“That is two asphalt rounds done and we head onto gravel, which I feel a little more at home on, if I’m honest. That will really give me a chance to get more solid results like this.
“It is such a great feeling being on the podium with such high-quality competition around us.”
Friday’s two stages at Longformacus saw Pearson finish fourth fastest in daylight and third after sunset, putting him in third place overall overnight and he was able to hold on to that position over Saturday’s seven stages at Eccles, Westruther and Scott’s View, east of Melrose.
Pearson is now fifth in the championship ahead of its next round in Wales in July.
This year’s Beatson’s Building Supplies-sponsored rally, making a comeback after two years off due to coronavirus restrictions, attracted a turnout of 240 crews racing along closed public roads in Berwickshire, with round two of the BRC taking centre stage for its first two days, accompanied by the Protyre National Asphalt Rally Championship and several regional championships.
Irishman Keith Cronin and co-driver Mikie Galvin won Friday’s stages in their Volkswagen Polo GTi R5, taking a 40-second lead into day two and setting themselves up to overtake round one front-runner Osian Pryce in the series’ standings.
Saturday’s racing saw Cronin, 35, stay ahead of nearest challengers James Williams and Dai Roberts in their Hyundai i20 R5 and third-placed Pearson and Furniss, 34.
“It feels great. It’s so nice to get a BRC win again,” said Cronin, also winner of 2012’s Jim Clark Rally, at the finish celebrations in Duns town square.
He’s now in front in the series on 43 points, with Williams on 33, Pryce on 25, Elliot Payne on 22 and Pearson on 20.The race to be the first non-BRC crew back centred on the National Asphalt Championship, with Steve Wood and Dale Bowen coming up trumps in their Fiesta WRC.
A triumphant comeback for three-time Scottish champion Thorburn, 35, had looked to be on the cards after two years out of action as he was in front for most of the day, but a hydraulic pipe failure forced him to withdraw right at the death.
He was able to repair his Focus WRC in time for Sunday’s rally, though, and was able to claim a win after being denied the day before.
Pearson’s third-place finish on Saturday secured him the honour of being the first Borderer home, with fellow Duns driver Dale Robertson forced to settle for 45th place in his Fiesta Rally2, accompanied by Stuart Loudon, after getting stuck in a ditch.
Cornhill-on-Tweed’s Michael Binnie steered Duns co-driver Claire Mole to a sixth-placed finish in their Mitsubishi Evo, though, and St Boswells’ Ross Hunter was just outside the top 10 in 11th spot with Martin Woodcock alongside.
Sunday’s Jim Clark Reivers’ Rally saw KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship contenders aiming to pick up maximum points on their first run on asphalt of 2022, but Thorburn, looking to make up for the previous day’s disappointment, and co-driver Paul Beaton ended up in pole position.