Tuesday 1 May 2012

Pirelli Perfection for Cotton

This photo may have been taken at the Pirelli International Rally
Photo by Fiesta Sporting Trophy
British Rally Championship star Matt Cotton banished the memories of his 2008 crash when he finished a creditable 13th overall and 2nd in class on last weekend’s Pirelli International Rally. Partnered by co-driver Glyn Thomas, the rapid Cornishman from St Teath endured a hard fought battle with AVS Motorsport team mate Gethin Jones throughout the 96 competitive stage miles in Cumbria to lose out on a win by a scant 8.1 seconds at the finish.

Some of the world’s top drivers converged on Carlisle City Centre to kick off the event on Friday night as the International competitors headed towards the first 2 stages of the event which would be held under the cover of darkness. Crews would face a tough test within the ‘killer’ Kielder Forest complex - so called due to its notorious roads, deep ditches and unforgiving nature, meaning there would be no room for error without a substantial penalty.

Having finished second best on the first two rounds of the series so far, Cotton was conscious that a ‘flat out’ approach to the event would be the only course of action if he was to stay in with a chance to fight for championship honours. Taking the first stage win on Friday night was an important boost to his confidence as he dropped behind rival Jones on the second loop to ensure he was behind him on the road for the Saturday contest. “I’m pleased with our speed straight out of the box tonight” said Matt as he headed to the overnight halt. “We set some good times even though my style was a little too sideways for these stages. I’ll need to settle into a tidier rhythm tomorrow”.

The first stage on Saturday would prove to be the decider for the event as Cotton lost 17 seconds on the slippery Bewshaugh stage and would now need to push as hard as possible if he was to regain the lead by the time the crews headed back to Carlisle Racecourse for the finish ceremony. Responding to the deficit, Cotton set about trying to overhaul Jones and taking many stage wins throughout the remaining competitive miles. But despite his best efforts, the South West pairing crossed the finish ramp in second place by just 8.1 seconds. “It’s been an amazing battle all day long and we were trading times with Gethin throughout the event” said Glyn at the finish. I’m really pleased by our performance this weekend especially considering Matt ended this rally in 2008 upside down in a ditch! It’s clear to see we have improved on every event this season and are looking forward to the sealed surface of the Jim Clark Rally in a few weeks time”.

Matt Cotton and Glyn Thomas hard at work on the stages
Photo : Fiesta Sporting Trophy
This encouraging finish boosts Matt and Glyn to 3rd overall in the Fiesta Sporting Trophy which is run by the Ford World Rally Championship organisation, M-Sport. This result is even more worthy as other contenders in the series pilot the far more powerful R2 category cars. They also lie in 14th place in the British Rally Championship and 2nd in class 8.

The Jim Clark International Rally is the next round on the calendar and takes crews to the first tarmac round of the series on 1st – 3rd June in the Scottish Border towns of Kelso and Duns.

Keep up to date with Matt’s progress both on and off the stages by visiting www.mattcottonrallying.co.uk, following us on Twitter (@mattcottonrally), or finding us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/mattcottonrally)

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