Jardine and Davenport set for reunion

  on South Coast rally  

Castrol / ProSpeed team reform to take on challenging Rallye Sunseeker

Sky  Sports  presenter  Tony  Jardine  will  once  again  join  forces  with  Franca  Davenport,  a  regular contributor  to  the  Daily  Telegraph, for the first time since their World Rally Championship (WRC) Swedish success a year ago.

Jardine and Davenport will tackle the only National forest ‘Rallye’ in the south of England, the Rallye Sunseeker (to be held in Bournemouth 27-28 February). Jardine  will  be  hoping  that  his  co-driving  protégé has not forgotten the valuable lessons she was taught back in 2007 by rally legend and World Champion co-driver Robert Reid, as they travel down to the south coast contemplating the challenge of the popular opening round of the MSA National Gravel  Rally  Championship,  the  Rallye  Sunseeker  -  now  in  its  twenty-fourth  year  as  a  National event  based  in  Bournemouth. 

It  has  been  supported  by  Sunseeker  for  the  last  twelve  years  but Jardine has competed in the rally a record 16 times, and is Vice President of the successful and experienced organising club, the Southern Car Club. He is naturally a fan of the event, but with all that experience knows it is no easy ride, and will need immense concentration from Davenport if the media pairing are to push for a good result. Jardine  in  the  run  up to the event commented, “The Rallye Sunseeker is the best organised and attended  event  on  the  national  rallying  scene.  It  is  a  ‘must  enter,  must  experience’  rally  full  of charisma  and  challenge.  The  highlight  for  most  crews  is  threading  their  way  through  the  scenic winter  gardens  then  blasting  along  the  Bournemouth  promenade  on  Friday  evening  in  front  of thousands of local fans. The forests and stately homes we visit provide top quality challenges for competitors  and  great  vantage  points  for  spectators.  This  event  established  itself  as  a  major happening  on  the  south  coast  many  years  ago,  but  it  gets  better  each  year.  For  my  co-driving journalist  Franca  Davenport,  though,  it  will  provide  non-stop  action  soon  turning  into  a  very  tiring day in the navigator’s seat.”

Davenport’s last rally encounter with Jardine was in Sweden on a WRC event in 2008, which was the reward for a four month crash course in becoming a WRC co-driver.

The media partnership of Jardine and Davenport, in their four month campaign, entered National rallies across England and Wales  collecting  two  emphatic  podium  class  finishes  on  the  way.  These  finishes  ensured  that Davenport’s dream of entering and finishing in a top World Rally Championship event were made a reality. A  year  on  with  a  chance  to  get  back  in  the  hot  seat  for  another  adrenalin  pumped  adventure, Davenport  is  ready  to  step  into  her  Alpinestars  overalls  and  pull  on  her  Arai  helmet  again  and is determined  to  keep  the  winning  mentality  and  put  in  a  good  strong  performance, 

 “I’m  looking forward to getting back in the co-driver’s seat of the Castrol Ford Fiesta but I just hope my pace- note skills aren’t too rusty. Rallye Sunseeker sounds like a fantastic event and it will be great to be working with both Tony and the ProSpeed team again.” York  based  ProSpeed  Motorsport  will  manage  the  Castrol  backed  Ford  Fiesta  ST150,  and  has already  spent  days  preparing  the  car  to  be  sure  that  it  runs  smoothly  throughout  the  weekend.

Team  boss  and  ProSpeed  Managing  Director,  Olly  Marshall,  said,  “We’re  looking  forward  to working  with  Franca  again  and  with  the  different  challenging  surfaces  of  Rallye  Sunseeker.  It’s  a relentless  action  packed  event  with  some  tarmac,  firm  forest  floor  and  some  soft  silty  stages  for good measure. It’s great that we will have Kumho’s latest slick and forest tyres to get us through the event, as the Sunseeker is traditionally tough on the tyres.”

Driver Jardine will be hoping to regain full fitness ahead of Rallye Sunseeker after recently returning from Switzerland carrying two broken ribs from a skiing incident. Andy  Beale,  an  experienced  McLaren  Development  Engineer  based  near  Camberley  will  be  with the ProSpeed team in Bournemouth, lending his engineering experience, knowledge of the car and knowledge  of  the  event  to  support  the  crew  in  service. 

When  asked  about  the  upcoming  event Beale  said,  “After  an  excellent  run  of  results  last  year,  I  am  really  looking  forward  to  returning to Tony’s ‘home’ event in Bournemouth. The Sunseeker is a unique rally at which we have had some great successes. I hope we can achieve a good result, although it’s going to be tough for Franca as she hasn’t seen any pace notes in recent months. In Sweden, the synergy between Tony, Franca and the team was great so it will be good to have Franca with us again and let’s hope that Tony’s broken ribs don’t stop him from going all out in the forests!”


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