British race ace, Rick Pearson is one of the hottest names in national saloon car racing following his Clio Cup heroics at Brands Hatch last weekend. The thirty-year-old, Mark Fish Motorsport runner started from pole position - his second of the...
British race ace, Rick Pearson is one of the hottest names in national saloon car racing following his Clio Cup heroics at Brands Hatch last weekend. The thirty-year-old, Mark Fish Motorsport runner started from pole position - his second of the season- and led for sixteen and a half of the twenty four racing laps.
Despite a lurid slide at Druids that demoted him to third on the opening tour, and a late race skirmish with Henry Taylor, round eleven of the Elf Clio Renaultsport UK Cup was a Rick Pearson white wash.
The statistics are made all the more impressive with the knowledge that the flashy display was conducted on home territory; having been brought up in Canterbury, Brands has a special significance for Pearson. "I saw my first ever motor race at Brands Hatch," he explains. "It hooked me totally and utterly on motorsport and from that day on, all I wanted to do was return to Brands to race and to win.
"Going into qualifying, we were in pretty good shape having finished testing fourth fastest overall, but we also had some tricks up our sleeves for the race weekend. I knew sitting in the assembly area before I went to qualify that the car was more than capable of pole position. In the end, my team mate (and Championship leader), Jim Edwards Jnr ran me pretty close and got within nine hundredths of a second of my time.
"Despite throwing the lead of the race away twice, I took Surtees with the throttle flat to the bulkhead to pass Henry Taylor with three laps to go and won by a tenth of a second."
Having waited some twelve years to return to Brands Hatch as a race winner, Pearson's podium exuberance was second to none. "Seeing the Chequered Flag and the crowd in the grandstand at Paddock Hill on their feet cheering, will be something I never forget...I'm still chuffed to bits! To have led for so many laps was a new experience and the race seemed to last for ever but it has made me feel far more confident about running at the front.
"At the start of the season, I was hopeful we could run consistently in the top ten, but I felt a podium position was unlikely. This was due to a lack of faith in my own competitiveness as opposed to the team's- I always believed Mark Fish would produce a winning car- so to have two podium positions and a race victory behind me by this stage in the season is very satisfying. I'm extremely pleased. I have definitely moved on as a driver and feel I can now consider a real assault on the title next year."
Euphoria aside, the incredible victory also gave weight to Pearson's burgeoning challenge in the driver standings. This weekend, he returns to action in the penultimate round of the 2000 Elf Clio Renaultsport UK Cup.
Round twelve takes place at Oulton Park in Cheshire, a circuit last visited by the Clio Cup three months ago. From there, the championship moves to Silverstone for the season finale and the second night race of the year.
"Oulton and Silverstone are great circuits and I'm capable of doing well at both. I think second overall (in the championship) is going to be a little tough to achieve," he says with a modicum of caution. "If I'm lucky I'll make the top three. I think for choice, I'd love to end the season with a win," he says. Watch this space...