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.”