the second stage bending a rear wishbone and they finished 4th.
Mind you, Garry's Fairy Godmother, or Saint Christopher, might have been riding shotgun in the Skoda. On the final stage, the car struck a rock without injury, but the when the Fiesta of Jock Armstrong and Cameron Fair struck the same rock it broke a wheel and put the pair out of 2nd place and out of the rally.
If Pearson's run was impressive, so was that of Niall Devine and Liam McIntyre gunning their GrpN Lancer with fading brakes into 5th place behind Binnie. If fireworks were expected from Freddie Milne and Patrick Walsh then maybe they got wet in the dreich, wet drizzle that sprinkled the Kielder greenery all day. Right from the very slippery first stage, Milne's Fiesta wasn't happy with a puzzled Freddie trying to find a suspension set up he was happy with.
James Wilson and Arthur Kierans were setting top three times till SS4 when the Fiesta went off the road while John Wink and Neil Shanks retired the Hyundai early on with a recurrence of its electrical gremlins.
At the rally finish Garry looked remarkably calm as he tried to absorb what he had just achieved. It looked as though his quiet elation was tempered with relief as the long sought success started to sink in.
"I think we won it on the first stage," said Garry, "We took 14 seconds out of Jock on the opening 14 miler at Wauchope and then just tried to manage that gap all the way to the finish." Careful and cautious were the watchwords: "We had 16 seconds on Jock going into the final stage, but I admit we did have a couple of 'slidey' moments near the start before taking it a bit more cautious, " and then added, "commiserations to Jock and Cammy, it was a good battle all year."
1 Garry Pearson/Niall Burns (Škoda Fabia R5) 38m 11s
2 Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson (Ford Fiesta WRC) 39m 30s
3 Scott Beattie/Paula Swinscoe (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo7) 40m 07s
4 Michael Binnie/Claire Mole (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) 40m 23s
5 Niall Devine/Liam McIntyre (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) 40m 43s
6 Freddie Milne/Patrick Walsh (Ford Fiesta R5) 41m 12s
7 Ian Forgan/Chris Lees (Ford Fiesta R5) 41m 28s
8 William Paterson/Tom Hynd (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) 42m 04s
9 Ian Baumgart/Dave Robson (Subaru Impreza) 42m 15s
10 Robert Adamson/Jane Nicol (Ford Fiesta R5) 42m 20s