Jardine & Davenport hit top gear

in annual Bournemouth rally  

Castrol / ProSpeed team take podium finish at Rallye Sunseeker

Sky  Sports  analyst  Tony  Jardine  and  journalist  Franca  Davenport  claimed  an  impressive  podium finish and 30th overall after overcoming a few scares and brief technical problems with their car at this  weekends  Rallye  Sunseeker  in  Bournemouth  (27-28  February),  which  also  saw  big  names such as Steve Perez and defending Sunseeker winner Marcus Dodd retire.

 Friday  was  a  race  against  time  before  the  event  had  even  started,  as  Davenport’s  journey  from Bristol was not going to plan, and time was running out for her to sign on for the weekends rally.   The team were very lucky to be granted exceptional circumstances which permitted Davenport to sign on late and compete. As  the  evening  drew  closer  the  expectant  rally  fans  headed  to  the  pier  to  watch  the  first  two opening  stages  along  the  promenade  which  would  have  seen  the  competitors  take  on  the  winter gardens. 

Jardine  and  Davenport  successfully  got  through  the  first  stage,  but  as  they  approached the  Boscombe  pier  for  the  second  time  they  were  stopped  by  marshals  and  informed  that  the second stage was cancelled due to a serious accident with a driver trapped in a car after he rolled and demolished a lamp post. Day  two  enabled  driver  Jardine  and  his  protégé  co-driver  Davenport  to have a full day in the car together and push for a podium finish in their Castrol backed Ford Fiesta. On the first few stages of the second day the media pairing clicked instantly, showing their form which gave them success in 2008.  Davenport  showed  that  she  has  not  forgotten  the  lessons  taught  to  her  by  World  Rally Championship  co-driver  Robert  Reid. 

The  team’s  effort  put  them  up  to  second  in  class,  and challenging for the top spot in class that was being held by Irish karting champion Craig Breen. During the opening stages of the afternoon, Jardine and Davenport were still second in class and competing for the top spot. As they entered the Wareham stages of the event it became clear how hard they were pushing for first in class, as they hit a patch of water which sent them aquaplaning across the track with the fiesta sliding sideways. Only the skill and experience of Jardine prevented the car from cashing into a nearby tree, which would have certainly been the end of the weekend for the team. Further on into the stage at Wareham Jardine and Davenport hit further troubles as their Fiesta lost all power, which resulted in the media duo losing valuable time on Craig Breen.

After a short period of  time  the  Castrol  backed  Fiesta  sparked  back  to  life  which  enabled  Jardine  to  nurse  it  back  to service where the York based ProSpeed team were waiting to tackle any existing problems. After a thorough  check  of  the  car,  team  boss  Olly  Marshall  concluded  that  the  trouble  the  team  hit  in Wareham was due to an ECU technical fault. A few adjustments to the car were made to ensure that the team could claim a podium finish. At the second service point Jardine commented, “We are doing extremely well today, Franca and I have clicked straight away. It is as if she was never away, as soon we were on the stages Franca got back into the swing of things seamlessly. The times that we are setting are fast, but after the trouble we hit earlier it means we have a lot of work to do. If we want to take first in class we are going to have to push even harder as the driver has a lot of experience in competitive motorsport.”

Once Jardine and Davenport were out of service, team boss and ProSpeed Motorsport Managing Director Olly Marshall said, “I am really impressed with both Tony and Franca today. Tony has been really  pushing  hard  to  claim  the  top  spot  in  his  class,  it’s  just  unfortunate  we  struck  a  technical problem with the car losing a lot of time. Franca who has not been rallying with us since last year has shown a lot of professionalism and as soon as she stepped foot into the service area switched into rally mode.” McLaren Development Engineer Andy Beale, from Camberley, was working alongside ProSpeed in service and commented on how well the Kumho tyres had been running throughout the event, “The Kumho tyres performed perfectly in the variable conditions and took a huge amount of stick from the  rocky  and  undulating  stages.  The  car  has  served  us  well  and  it’s  amazing  how  Franca  has effortlessly fitted back into the team, she gelled with everybody and helped give us a great result.”

On  finishing  the  event  and  knowing  that  she  had  managed  a  top  30  finish  out  of  70  starters, Davenport said, “I just got straight back into the flow of things, and really enjoyed every moment of the experience. We had a few scares today, but they were also a bit of fun. Tony has been telling me  about  this  rally  for  sometime,  and  it  has  met  all  of  my  expectations.  I  am  delighted  with  the finish, it just leaves me wanting to compete more.”


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