Pierre Campana took victory in the Richard Burns Memorial Rally at the weekend, his first full event behind the wheel of a MINI John Cooper Works WRC car, with which he will contest this week's Rallye Deutschland.
The Richard Burns Memorial Rally, which takes place annually as a tribute to the former world rally champion, attracted an impressive entry list with well over 100 participants. Held on asphalt-only stages, the event gave Campana valuable and relevant practice in the run up his WRC debut.
Working with the support of Prodrive team staff, who run the works MINI programme, Campana and co-driver Sabrina de Castelli were up against a wealth of experienced local rally drivers, well acquainted with the layout of the RAF Marham course. Campana however enjoyed a successful run, winning six out of the eight stages and finishing a close second in SS1 and SS3 on Saturday, while paying tribute to Burns.
“The Richard Burns Memorial Rally has been a remarkable event and it has been an absolute honour to join so many people in paying tribute to such a rally legend,” said Campana, who is due to do two WRC events this year under the Team Drive-Pro banner.
“I would like to thank the organisers of the event for their hospitality and their fantastic organisation. We wanted to use the event as a way of getting more mileage in the MINI before we compete in Rallye Deutschland, so it is very pleasing to have won the rally, particularly against such knowledgeable and passionate competitors.
“Stage wins and times were not part of our plan, but it has been a very valuable event in terms of understanding the car on asphalt and in changing weather conditions.
“The car felt good, the Michelin tyres worked well and it's been good for Sabrina and I to make our debut as Drive-Pro drivers, working with Prodrive staff, who gave us a great support, all of which adds to our preparations for Germany.”
Looking to Germany, he added it will be a 'very important step' in his career: “It is an opportunity that I am ready to grasp with both hands," he continued. "I am really looking forward to my first ever competition in a WRC car and with all the pressure and challenges that it brings. I must thank the Drive-Pro team for their faith in me and also for the support of the FFSA, without which I would not be competing this week.
“It is clear that Rallye Deutschland will be a learning curve for me, so I have to set realistic expectations, which are really to get through each stage cleanly and to the best of my and the car's ability.
“I cannot wait to get started and to build upon what we have started to put together as a team with my co-driver Sabrina, the Drive-Pro team, together with the valuable support from Prodrive.”