by Rob Wilkins
Stobart Ford's Matthew Wilson is five events in to his second full season in the FIA World Rally Championship, having made his debut in 2006. Here he speaks exclusively to Crash.net Radio
during the four-week gap between the Rally de Portugal and Rally Argentina and gives us his take on his year thus far...
Matt, have you been happy, generally speaking, with the first five events of the season?
Yeah, I think you have got to remember though that they are all very different rallies. You start off in Monte Carlo, which was a new rally for everybody this year and then there was two snow events - and another new event there too. We always knew those rallies were going to be difficult and that really we could only start judging where we were once we got back onto the gravel rallies in Mexico and Portugal. So yeah, I am reasonably happy. In Mexico I got my first point of the year, which is a decent start - so far so good.
We are now going to be going back to places a second time, like Argentina, Sardinia and Greece. There are three consistent rallies in there so hopefully we can gauge where we are compared to last year and see how we are getting on.
Looking at your results so far, as you say you scored a point in Mexico. I assume that's been the highlight for you so far?
Yeah, although I think we should have been higher up the order in Portugal. We had a terrible second day there. The first stage on the Saturday we had the wrong tyres and the weather had changed. We just had two or three big moments at the start of the stage and just lost a lot of confidence. Conditions were changeable all day and we just struggled to get the confidence back. On the Sunday though we had some really good times, only a second a kilometre behind the fastest, which was where we wanted to be. So if we can now carry that into Argentina it will be good. Definitely Mexico was the best result then, but there has been promising areas on other rallies as well. It has just been putting it all together really.
In addition to the point in Mexico, you have had two 12th places (in Monte Carlo and Portugal), a 26th place finish in Norway and a DNF in Sweden. Does that tell the whole story?
No. Norway was obviously my mistake. I clipped the inside of a snow bank which damaged the suspension and I think we were in line for a top ten position there, which was a bit of a shame.
Obviously in Sweden we had the problem with the engine, which was the same as Jari-Matti [Latvala] and I think it was just a bit of a freak thing. We just hadn't accounted for the temperature being as cold as it was. The last morning it was down to -26oC or -28oC, which we haven't seen in Sweden for a long time. We just got caught out there with the temperature.
So to summarise, I think in Norway we should have possibly been higher up the order - and Portugal as well really. If we hadn't had such a disastrous Saturday in Portugal, we would probably have made it to 11th or 10th. It is a little bit frustrating but I think there has been good that has come out of it. It is not all bad.
How have you found doing the new events, compared to those you did in 2006?
I have really enjoyed them. I thought Portugal was a good rally. They did really well with the organisation and stuff like that. The rally ran relatively smoothly apart from the shakedown. The stages were good, although they were very, very rough. I think some of the stages on the Friday were the roughest stages I have ever seen, probably even rougher than Cyprus or Greece or places like that. That was hard on the car and hard on the crew as well. So they have put two good new rallies in there and I am really looking forward to Ireland now [the other event that is new this year]. I think that is going to be the one to look forward to at the end of the year.