Ronan Pearson battles hard for Brands Hatch top ten
Teenage racer Ronan Pearson battled back from a challenging qualifying session to record a solid top ten finish as his Quaife MINI CHALLENGE season continued at Brands Hatch.
The Scottish teenager made the long trip to Kent on the back of a solid start to the season at Snetterton, where he fought back from issues in qualifying to secure a fine second place finish for his LDR Performance Tuning team in the final race – marking his best result to date in the highly competitive one-make series.
That left the William Waugh-backed racer sitting in an encouraging sixth in the standings heading for the shortest circuit on the calendar, with hopes high of three more strong finishes to maintain his title challenge.
As expected, qualifying would prove to be a tightly-fought affair as the 30 car field looked to try and find space on track to set a time, with Ronan amongst those to find their best laps affected by traffic.
Despite lapping just four-tenths of a second off pole, he would end up down in 14th on the grid but aware that he had the pace to be higher up the order; his theoretical best time being good enough for P5.
Although he got away well when the lights went out to start the opening 20 minute race of the weekend, Ronan slipped back two places as the field funnelled through turn one, although he quickly fought back ahead of Sam Weller into 15th on lap two.
Overhauling Ru Clark to get back into 14th, Ronan found himself in the midst of a huge midfield battle for position and whilst he would cross the line in 14th, a time penalty for exceeding track limits instead saw him classified in 17th.
Putting that disappointment behind him, Ronan wasted little time in making up places when the second race kicked off and was quickly making up places, ensuring that he crossed the line in 13th spot; inheriting twelfth post race due to a penalty elsewhere.
With his focus firmly on breaking into the top ten, Ronan enjoyed a strong opening lap to immediately get into tenth spot and had climbed up to eighth before a brief caution period to remove a stranded car from the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend.
On the restart, he found himself involved in a huge battle for position with the likes of Isaac Smith and Lewis Brown and was rewarded with a solid seventh place finish for his efforts.
Ronan ends the weekend sitting ninth in the standings ahead of the next round of the season, a double header at Oulton Park, in late July.
“We had a really good car in qualifying but unfortunately, I had quite a few issues with traffic that affected my position,” he said. “On my fastest lap, I got baulked by another driver and then on the next lap, I hit traffic again which also cost me time. When I got clear air, the tyres had gone past their best so we were a bit further down the order than we should have been.
“The times were so close that I knew it would be tough in the races, but I got away well in race one and held the inside line at Paddock Hill. There were a few drivers who went right round the outside and got ahead, but I got back up to 14th and was having a good battle in the pack. Getting the penalty was unfortunate because on more than occasion, I was on the outside line and got forced wide so I wasn’t intentionally exceeding the track limits, but there was nothing we could do about it.
“It was difficult in the pack in race two but we made up places again and going into race three I was fully focused on getting into the top ten. To come from P12 to finish was seventh was a great way to finish it off and it was a tough race with no time to relax because we were all battling so close in the pack.
“I’ll admit that I was hoping for more from the weekend, but I’ve been sensible about making progress from where we started and the tactic had paid off. We’ve banked some good points, and weekends like this – where things don’t quite go to plan – are the ones that could be important when we get to the end of the season.”