Duns dynamo Pearson taking on the best of British

After an incredible season in which he claimed four national rally titles in 2021, reigning Scottish rally champion Garry Pearson is set to step up and test himself in the top class of the British Rally Championship.

By Ralph Mellon
Thursday, 21st April 2022, 9:56 am
Garry Pearson
Garry Pearson

The Duns ace is no stranger to the BRC, having contested the series in the two-wheel-drive era and won the junior title in 2012.

Ten years later and he’s back bidding to add the coveted top tier title to his already impressive CV, taking on the best the UK rally scene has to offer in a four-wheel-drive Ford Fiesta Rally2.

Pearson's charge for honours will supported by a new co-driver with World Rally Championship experience, Dale Furniss, and backing from key sponsors Asset Alliance Group and Hankook Tyres.

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The first event, the Corbeau Seats Rally Tendring & Clacton, takes place on April 23-24, with the first stage getting under way at 6.30pm on Saturday.

The Berwickshire sportsman took part in a Q&A on how he is preparing for the challenge and his aims for the season ahead.

What does it mean to you to have a campaign in the top class of the BRC confirmed?

"It’s a dream come true. For years, I’ve looked up to the BRC1 category, ever since I was in the BRC junior category 10 years ago. There were times when I thought we might not get a crack at it at all and it was going to be out of reach in terms of budget, so to finally make it really is special to me."

What are you most looking forward to about the 2022 season?

"I have to say it’s the standard of competition. We'll be competing against the best drivers in the UK on a pretty level playing field and that really excites me. I’m also keen to get out and do proper recceing again as, for the past few seasons, I’ve generally done all my pre-event pacenote work watching videos on a laptop either at home or in a hotel room somewhere."

What are your personal goals?

"The competition is going to be fierce and there a lot of new challenges to overcome but, at a minimum, I want a top three finish and some fastest stage times. Undoubtedly, we’ll have a good tyre underneath us, thanks to Hankook, and I'd like to play my part in helping to develop their programme as the season goes on too."

How has your pre-season preparation gone?

"It’s probably been the best I've ever had. I’m fit and have had some good seat time in testing, which makes a huge difference and is not something I've had the luxury of in the past. The team running the car NPL have been really impressive and good to work with so far, so I hope we continue to build on our partnership in the coming events."

How does the new Fiesta Rally 2 compare to the cars you’ve driven before?

"It’s definitely a lot sharper, it has a really crisp power delivery and on the tarmac I really enjoy being able to fine tune the setup to get a good feeling. It’s the newest car I’ve driven by a long stretch, so it should give us a great chance to be at the sharp end if everything goes to plan."

You have got a new co-driver in Dale Furniss. How did that partnership come about and what do you expect him to bring to your campaign?

"When Niall (Burns) announced he would have to take a break, we created a shortlist of co-drivers we felt hit the criteria I needed in a co-driver. Dale was right at the top of that, as he has a wealth of experience, including having competed in BRC1 before, which I think is a great help to me as a rookie in the class this year. I’m really looking forward to working with him."

Is there anything you intend to change about your approach to rallying this season?

"My approach will remain the same – give it everything. I’ve created some rules for myself that will help and I’ve studied several WRC drivers and picked parts of their discipline for my own rallying. I never want to stop learning and improving, and I'm going into this new challenge really focused on doing that."

Who are you most looking forward to driving against and which events are you excited about?

"I’m looking forward to competing against Osian (Pryce) and Keith (Cronin) for sure. They’re both very quick, have lots of experience and have opted for VW Polos this year but I hope we can take it to them when we feel comfortable to do so. As for events, I love the Cambrian Rally and Trackrod as I've had a bit of success at those two/"

Do you have plans to contest any events outside the BRC?

"Nothing confirmed at the moment but there are a few interesting things coming up this year I'd certainly be keen to have a crack at, if the dates suit and sponsors are interested in getting involved."

You’re a busy man away from the stages too with various business interests. What do you do to unwind on a rare weekend off?

"What does a weekend off look like again? In all seriousness, I enjoy my rallying so much that I spend as much time preparing for it as I can. That can mean hitting the simulator or getting out for physical training. I like most sports, in fairness, so anything with a bit of exercise involved is good enough for me."