Leading Elf Clio Renaultsport UK Cup competitor, Rick Pearson stormed to his seventh top ten finish of the season in the penultimate round of the championship at Oulton Park yesterday (Sunday). QUALIFYING: 1:35.406s Having found more than one...
Leading Elf Clio Renaultsport UK Cup competitor, Rick Pearson stormed to his seventh top ten finish of the season in the penultimate round of the championship at Oulton Park yesterday (Sunday).
Having found more than one and a half seconds between the Friday test and Saturday qualifying session, the Fulham-based racer's eventual fastest lap of 1:35. 406 s secured a spot on the fourth row of the grid. "Qualifying was not as good as we would have hoped for," he admitted. "The track is much faster than last time we were here. Despite the fact that I found some time in the car after testing, it was only good enough for eighth on the grid. The car was almost certainly capable of a time within the low 1m 34's. Really, it came down to a small error at the chicane on both my flying laps. "
RACE: 23m 03.416s
Pearson made a strong start from the fourth row of the grid and was up to fifth by the hairpin on lap one. From then on, the Mark Fish charge provided much of the mid-field entertainment, including a spate of successful passing manoeuvres at Clay Hill.
The first scars of battle were inflicted on the inaugural lap when the Pearson-piloted, ActiveShop Clio was knocked wide while battling for fourth. Pearson's woes were compounded when he was helped back onto the track by a determined Jason Templeman, disrupting the handling of the car for the remainder of the race and causing extensive damage to the rear axle, driver-side panels and rear wheel rim. The excursion also meant that he lost ground to the close-knit group battling for top five honours.
Later that lap, Templeman again made contact with Pearson, this time sending him spinning off at the chicane. While he attempted to recover the situation, smoke filled the ActiveShop cockpit. Momentarily distracted by the intrusion, Pearson soon found he had no alternative but to plough through a trackside advertising board - much to the delight of the fans installed at that particular section of the track- before rejoining the fray.
Returning to race speed, the Englishman had dropped to a lowly twentieth place. Unperturbed, the mainstay of the fourteen-lap race thereafter was Pearson's progress through the field. By lap nine he'd charged back through the order into twelfth place but was again forced wide across the grass at the chicane. With all four wheels locked and a car directly ahead of him, the situation was nevertheless rescued without mishap.
More drama was to come however, when the thirty-year-old was hit with a ten second penalty for his actions. "I was given a penalty for jumping across the grass at the chicane," he explains. "It was revoked after the race following an appeal - If it wasn't for the fact that I'd had to swerve onto the grass to avoid hitting someone, I'd have been able to stop and thus avoid the penalty for missing the chicane."
With the ten seconds reinstated immediately after the race, Pearson was classified in ninth position. "The tight confines of Oulton Park often means the Clio Cup encounter is quite physical, but the race was brutal!" explained a relieved Pearson. "The ActiveShop Clio didn't come back with any straight panels on it and having been outside of the top twenty at one stage, I was pretty glad to make it back to ninth by the end of the twelve laps.
"The important thing though was for my team mate, Jim Edwards Jnr to claim the title and Mark Fish motorsport to claim the team championship. Now we can go to Silverstone and make a serious bid for fourth in the Championship."
Rick Pearson returns to action in the Elf Clio Renaultsport UK Cup at Silverstone this Saturday (16 September).