Rick Pearson claimed a fantastic fifteenth position in round three of the Renaultsport Clio Trophy at Spa-Francorchamps last weekend despite starting thirty-ninth on the forty-six car grid following a terrifying 150 mph accident at Blanchimont in...
Rick Pearson claimed a fantastic fifteenth position in round three of the Renaultsport Clio Trophy at Spa-Francorchamps last weekend despite starting thirty-ninth on the forty-six car grid following a terrifying 150 mph accident at Blanchimont in the second of two qualifying sessions.
QUALIFYING: 39th: 2m:48.348s
Friday's initial qualifying session yielded the first dry running of the weekend and enabled the Mark Fish Motorsport squad to concentrate on developing suitable chassis settings.
Despite being confident of fielding a vastly improved car in Saturday's session two, Pearson's first flying lap was ruined by a brief off at Brussels. Worse was to come however when the right rear tyre went flat on the following run, pitching the awesome Clio V6 into the tyre barriers at the daunting 6th gear Blanchimont corner.
A frenetic opening tour set the scene for a bruising twelve lap encounter - Pearson was hit by rivals twice before the end of the pace lap and forced to take evasive action at the notorious Eau Rouge complex when six cars ran wide through the gravel.
Recovering for the start of the second lap, the UK Clio Cup graduate continued to work his way steadily through the field. His progress was hampered slightly later that same tour when the safety car was scrambled for two laps to clear an accident at the bus-stop chicane.
The on-track action escalated still further at the re-start when light drizzle began to fall on the far side of the circuit. Unabated, Pearson was soon immersed in a titanic scrap with Italian, 'Navajo'. The Briton finally rocketed past at Les Combes thanks to a brave outbraking manoeuvre that set him on his way to his best ever result in the pan-European championship.
"This is a fantastic result for us, " Pearson commented, "as all in all I made up some twenty-four places on my grid position. The race was a real battle with debris and contact throughout the twelve laps but I'm extremely pleased with what we have achieved this weekend.
"Having raced previously at Spa, I was hoping that I would be on a more equal footing compared to the drivers who've had a couple of seasons worth of experience of the V6. Sadly, it didn't give me as much of a lift in performance as I'd hoped for because the top runners had all been testing extensively in the two weeks between rounds, whilst our limited budget hasn't allowed me any seat time since the first race at Monza, ten weeks ago.
"Nonetheless, we've got some testing scheduled before the next round in order to work in Renault's new suspension kit. I have every confidence that the expertise of the Mark Fish crew in developing a set-up will push us even closer to the front in the coming races and with new supporter Sea France now on board - along with ActiveShop, Freeparking.co.uk and Mintex- I look forward to rejoining the battle at Misano."