by Rob Wilkins
TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH MATTHEW WILSON: CLICK HERE
Britain's Matthew Wilson
has had some encouraging results of late and has finished in the top ten in the last four events in succession. Crash.net Radio
caught up with the Stobart
Ford man at the recent Castle Combe Rallyday show in the UK and spoke to him about that event, his form so far, next season and lots, lots more...
Matt, you are back at the Rallyday, a year on from your first appearance here. Are you a fan of these sorts of events?
It is nice to come back again. I probably said the same last year, but we don't get much driving in Britain now. There is obviously only Rally GB at the end of the year [for us in the WRC] and so it is nice to actually come and do some driving back in this country and see the fans that maybe don't get to all of the rallies. It is good.
Following on from this you will be doing the back-to-back asphalt events in Spain and Corsica. Does an event like this help you at all for those rounds, because obviously you are running on tarmac here at Castle Combe?
Any mileage we can get at the minute on tarmac is helpful. We haven't had a great deal of running on asphalt and we went straight from Monte Carlo in January to Germany last month without driving the car on the black stuff in between. We turned up on the shakedown in Germany and it was all like: 'how does all this work again?' So any mileage we can do on tarmac is definitely good and hopefully we can do some more before Ireland [and post Corsica], which will just get us up to speed on the bumpy Irish stuff.
Looking at your season overall, how do you assess things?
It was a difficult first couple of rallies but after that it has been good. These last four have been really positive for us. We have been inside the top ten on all four of them and should have been for the last five or six but we had a couple of mechanical problems. Really I think that without a couple of mistakes from me we should probably have been in the points in Germany and in Greece as well. There are just little things that I am still learning. We are making mistakes but the promising thing is we are still getting in the top ten, which is a step forward. I think the last three rallies, Japan, Ireland and GB they should be good for us again. I am looking forward to them. I enjoyed Japan last year and obviously Ireland is new for everybody but at least we have got a bit of a rough idea of how bumpy the roads are and what they are going to be like. The only thing there is the weather. It is going to be so up and down. You could have a nice November's winter day or you could have snow and ice. It is going to be a bit of a lottery that one.
Marcus Gronholm did an event in Ireland at the start of the season and Mikko Hirvonen
is going to do the Cork Rally at the end of this month. Is that going to be any help for you, because obviously the three Ford teams must work together a bit?
For sure, but I think that is more for Marcus and Mikko to get some experience of the Irish stuff. They have never been over there. I think as an M-Sport team we have got quite a lot of customers in Ireland and so we can gather quite a lot of knowledge through that. I think we are reasonably prepared, but for the likes of Citroen, who have never done any events over there with customer cars, then these outings in Ireland are probably more for them on a car side than on a driver side. But really for Marcus and Mikko I think it is just to get up to speed on the bumps and make sure they are happy. It should be good and if they do learn something then hopefully they can pass it across and we can use it as well.
Marcus has recently announced he is going to retire from the sport. How big a gap will that leave?
Massive - he is a character and he has been brilliant for M-Sport and for Ford. He has been an inspiration to a lot of people and especially for Mikko. I think he has helped Mikko a lot and now Mikko is at the stage where he can step into his shoes. If you look at Finland this year they were very close and next year Mikko will definitely be going to win that rally and probably quite a few others as well. He is at the point then when he can step in but it will be a big shame to lose Marcus.