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Q&A: Matthew Wilson - EXCLUSIVE

29 December 2007

by Rob Wilkins


TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH MATTHEW WILSON: CLICK HERE


Britain's Matthew Wilson finished the 2007 season on a real high with three points finishes in succession on the last three events in Japan, Ireland and Wales. Crash.net Radio caught up with the Stobart Ford man recently to find out just how much of a boost those results have given him ahead of his third year in the WRC...


Crash.net:
Matt, you had a great finish to the season, how satisfying was that?

Matthew Wilson:
It was good to get three points finishes on the last three rallies. It was a nice end to the year and to do it on the two home rallies in Ireland and GB made it even more special.

Crash.net:
The last event was of course the Wales Rally GB - you finished sixth there and of course got the better of Chris Atkinson on the final day. That must have been very pleasing?

MW:
It was - and it was a good battle with Chris all through the Saturday. He would take 1 second and I would take 2 seconds and it just kept going like that all day basically. I was expecting it to be a big challenge on the Sunday but then we had a really good opening stage and I think that took it out of his reach a little bit. It was good and it was nice to have a fight like that. It keeps the adrenalin going.

Crash.net:
How hard was the Rally GB, in light of the weather, which by all accounts was pretty appalling?

MW:
It was very tough. The last stage on the Friday evening was probably one of the most difficult stages I have ever done. Obviously we had the darkness as well, but to have the fog that we had was just unbelievable. It was good to get through it though and we didn't really make any major mistakes. It was a good day.

Crash.net
What did you think of those night stages?

MW:
It is a good spectacle and if the weather had been kinder on the Friday it would have been really, really nice to do Rheola in the dark. But the fog just made it really, really difficult. Obviously when we did the other [night] stage on the Saturday through Halfway it was good weather and the visibility was good. You could really enjoy it. There is just something special about driving in the dark as well - it is just another added extreme in there.

Crash.net:
Is it good for the WRC to have night stages like they use to in the 'old' days?

MW:
There are a lot of pros and cons for it. Obviously it is harder for TV to get good pictures in the dark. But from the point of view of the drivers' it spices it up a little bit and we saw the results of that on the final stage on the Friday night. The times were all over the place and it definitely shook the rally up.

Crash.net
You dad and M-Sport boss, Malcolm Wilson said your drive on Rally GB was your 'best ever performance' on a WRC event, do you agree with that?

MW:
I think so. Japan was obviously nice and to get fourth was a good feeling. But the good thing with GB was that it was purely down to performance and we had our sixth place with none of the top guys falling by the wayside. That made it even more special. In Japan in contrast the hardest thing was trying to keep the thing on the road, which we managed. But Marcus [Gronholm] and Sebastien [Loeb] both went out. Overall GB was probably one of the more satisfying ones.

Crash.net:
You had good results in Japan and Ireland, finishing 4th and 7th respectively. Were those results as important as that one in GB?

MW:
They were. The one in Japan especially gave me quite a bit of confidence. Sometimes you just need that break to get that result and then it gives you the confidence and I think that is what it did. We then went into Ireland, which was another really difficult rally, conditions wise and with the weather, and to finish seventh on tarmac, which is probably not my strongest surface, just shows what a result like Japan can do. It is good when you get a run going and obviously you just want to keep it going. I didn't really want the season to end!

Crash.net
You finish the year with 11 points on the board and 11th in the drivers' championship. Are you happy with your season as a whole?

MW:
Yeah, we had a bad start to the year and with all the new events there at the start, it just felt like '06 carrying on. We were hoping that we could go back to the rallies a second time and just have a bit more knowledge. But obviously Monte Carlo was near enough a completely new rally [due to the major route changes] and then there was Norway and Portugal too. I must say it was a difficult at the beginning but then we had a real good run throughout the middle of the year, with a lot of top-ten finishes - a ninth in Germany and stuff like that. From the middle part onwards it picked up and the last half has been really good.

Crash.net:
Just how much do you think you have come on since the start of the year?

MW:
Massively. I think it just shows what that experience can do. In Japan, it was just my second time there, with a pretty similar route and we finished fourth. Rally GB, was the third or fourth time I have been there and we finished sixth. That just shows when you do get a bit of experience what you can do. Hopefully next year can be even better.

Crash.net:
What are your plans now for the short break before the season starts again with the Rallye Monte Carlo at the end of January?

MW:
There is not much time before it all kicks off again. I will be at home at Christmas and then hopefully in the New Year I can try the new Pirelli tyres before we head out to Monte Carlo. We will do some training and hopefully a little bit of driving at some point too.

Crash.net
How do you think you will get on in 2008 and what are your targets?

MW:
Like I said, I just want to try and keep this run going and build on that. There is going to be some new challenges - no mousse, one-make tyre manufacturer and so on. That might spice things up. We will just have to see. It would be nice to try and drive on the tyres before the start of the year, just to get some idea what they are like. Overall I just want to build on what I did on the last three events and try and make that a regular occurrence.

Crash.net:
The calendars have been confirmed recently as far ahead as 2009 and 2010. What do you think of this idea of rotating events?

MW:
It will certainly spice it all up a little bit. It will be difficult for the events though to be in one year and then out the next. But from a drivers' point of view it does make it more interesting. Going to a different rally each year should be good. Hopefully I will have experience of each one before we do go to them and then you can use that experience. OK you are away for a year but things don't change too much. It is interesting but for the events it makes it very difficult and for the fans in this country to not have Rally GB in 2010, I am sure they won't be too pleased about that.


TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH MATTHEW WILSON: CLICK HERE


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