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!”