Garry Pearson and Craig Wallace took a well earned finish on the opening round of the Twingo Renaultsport R1 Trophy, Rallye Sunseeker International this weekend.
The young Scot had a challenging first event in the brand new car, deciding from the outset not to try and stay with the expected pace of double British Rally Champion Keith Cronin, who was driving an identical specification car.
Their steep learning curve on this, Garry’s first MSA British Rally Championship event, was further complicated by a car that had been finished just a day before the rally shakedown on Thursday. But the loose surface revealed a rock, which added a bent steering arm to his learning experience. After a great job by his team, ably assisted by Monster Sport Europe, the Twingo Trophy parts and technical partners, he went out again and made the finish ramp in Bournemouth to take the champagne and maximum points in the Twingo Renaultsport R1 Trophy UK.
Their prize of a £750 parts voucher is added to a maximum haul of MSA British Junior Rally Championship points towards their hope to take the Rallye du Var prize drive at the end of the year.
Although not scoring Twingo Trophy points, Cronin and Seb Marshall were indeed the pace-setters in their R1 Mantis-liveried car, even topping newcomers Chris Ingram/Joe Cruttenden and Nick Allen/Andy Bull in their R2 machines on the first loop of three stages.
Sadly Cronin and Marshall’s puncture and subsequent driveshaft failure sidelined the Irishman on stage ten of twelve, but their performance had put the pocket rocket midfield throughout the day, leading the class and proving that at just 133 horsepower, the entry-level Twingo can be a force to be reckoned with.
Despite the Twingo R2 Trophy kicking off on the Bulldog Rally North Wales in March, Ingram and Allen had opted to contest Rallye Sunseeker, adding some spice to the Renault contingent on the event.
It was 2011 Junior 1000 Rally Champion Ingram who was fastest Twingo on stage four, but the Cheshire lad had some bad luck on the very next test, becoming one of several crews throughout the field to retire with transmission problems on the slippery surface. It was therefore the furthest travelled driver who was top R2 Twingo at the Bournemouth finish, Californian Nick Allen ably guided to an excellent twelfth place overall by Birmingham’s Andy Bull. He and R1 Trophy winner Pearson were delighted at the finish; both commenting on how well the Dorset and Hampshire based event was run.
Also pleased with the event and taking part as part of the official event team were Justin Dale and Andrew Bargery. They ran Renault Sport Technologies brand new Twingo R2 Evolution as a course opening car, ensuring that the stages were correctly set up, marshalled and that spectators were aware of the impending international rally.
The world public debut of the Twingo R2 Evolution was a great success, the car running faultlessly. Despite not appearing on the results of the event, three times event winning co-driver Bargery was able to feed back some competitive unofficial times to the French team for technical data.
The next round of the MSA British Rally Championship, Bulldog International Rally North Wales, will host both the Twingo Renaultsport R1 and R2 Trophies. Coverage of the series from Rallye Sunseeker will be part of the Sky Sports British Rallyzone programme, broadcast during the week preceding the classic March 23/24th Welsh rally.