Lady luck shines on Pearson

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STEPHEN Pearson continued his strong early season form in the Kumho BMW Championship with back-to-back second place finishes at Brands Hatch, but admitted he had his fair share of luck along the way.

The Chedburgh-based speedster retired with a throttle problem in race one but gained second place thanks to a red flag seconds later, before recovering from a spin to earn another runners-up spot — both behind the dominant Garrie Whittaker.

Pearson, who missed the first two rounds at Silverstone, was left fourth in class following the weekend’s results.

“It’s been my lucky day,” he said. “In the first race I scraped in by the skin of my teeth and in the second race we spun at Paddock Hill and dropped down to eighth, but then they red flagged, so we had to restart.

“I got a good jump off the start and managed to get up to second place, but I think my share of luck for the season has gone.”

In race one, Pearson had a strong race in second and was rarely troubled from behind. However, he was unable to challenge Whittaker for the lead.

It looked as if Pearson’s hard work was going to go to waste when he pulled up at Graham Hill bend with six minutes left, but the red flag was brought out seconds later when fellow class competitor Ian Munns slid out at Clark Curve and was left beached. However, on countback, Pearson was awarded second place, and he was able to fix the plastic clip that had come off the throttle linkage.

Pearson lined up second when the BMWs returned for race two at 4pm, but a spin at Paddock Hill Bend put him down to eighth. Although he climbed back up to sixth, another red flag halted his progress — after James Ford spun into the gravel at Paddock Hill.

When the race restarted, Pearson was back on the fourth row of the grid alongside Stuart Laws, but had stormed up to fourth by the entrance to turn one.

He got past Giovanni di Gennaro on Cooper Straight for third and then took advantage of some slow backmarkers to outpace second-placed Ian Crisp through Clark Curve and the start-finish straight.

Pearson — in his 3.2-litre M3 Evo — remained in that position until the end of the 20-minute race, and his drive also earned him the Driver of the Day award.

In the championship, which is based on a power-to-weight structure, Whittaker is the clear leader having won all seven rounds, with the next two races taking place at Croft on May 28/29.

n Also in action at Brands Hatch was Mark Fowler in the Hammerite Racing Classic Group One Touring Car Championship. But the Bury St Edmunds-born driver — in his Chevrolet Camaro — retired with suspected handling problems.