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

Britain's Matthew Wilson will take in his home round of the World Rally Championship this week, when he drives over the start ramp ahead of the 2008 Wales Rally GB. Crash.net Radio's Rob Wilkins caught up with the Stobart Ford man recently and spoke to him about his hopes for the final round in this year's WRC and got his thoughts on his year overall...

Crash.net:
Matt, the season is almost at an end now. How are you feeling going into Wales Rally GB?

Matthew Wilson:
I am looking forward to it. It is always nice to come back and do your home rally. It has been a good year and we have been making progress. It would be nice to get a strong result to finish off the year in GB. We will just see what we can do. There are new stages on the Friday, which will spice it up a little bit.

Crash.net:
Rally GB is the event you have the most experience of in the WRC. You were sixth last year. What result would you be happy with this year?

MW:
It is going to be difficult to know what to expect. Obviously there are totally new stages on the Friday. The rest of the stages are reversed as well. It is going to be a completely new rally. There is only one stage that we have actually got pace-notes for. It is going to really change it around a little bit. It could make it quite interesting. We will definitely though be going to try and equal what we did last year, if not beat it. That could be difficult. But we will give it a good go.

Crash.net:
Does the 'home' crowd spur you on?

MW:
Yeah and I think there will be even more people out now that we are going further up into Wales. Hopefully a few more people will come out on the mid-Wales stages on the Friday and we should get a few more spectators in the likes of Sweet Lamb and places like that. I think it will be good and there should be plenty of home support.

Crash.net:
The event is taking place a little bit later this year - do you think that will make any difference in terms of the weather?

MW:
I don't think so. Obviously with the weather we are having at the minute we could get anything! [laughs] But I don't think it will make a massive difference. The only thing is that obviously the Friday stages are probably a little bit higher up than the others and there is maybe a chance of some fog or whatever, which could make it tricky. But like I said, I am really looking forward to it and I think you can expect anything at this time of year in Britain.

Crash.net:
There are some night stages on the Rally GB. How does that affect the way you prepare for the event and make your pace-notes?

MW:
Not too differently to be honest. We did some night stages last year and yeah, they were really, really difficult. There was a lot of fog and very heavy rain and so visibility wasn't too great. But if you do get a really clear day and into the night as well, then the stages are probably even more enjoyable in the dark than they are in the day. It is just another challenge. I do like them and hopefully the weather will be a little bit clearer than last year and we won't have that fog because if you have fog and darkness it makes it really tricky. I am just hoping it stays clear in the evening.

Crash.net:
This has been your third full season in the WRC. How would you sum it up?

MW:
It has been a big improvement. We have gone from strength-to-strength and we probably could have scored a few more points than we have got as well. There are obviously a couple of incidences - for example, in Sweden we lost out on the last day while in fifth position and so we lost a few points there. Also in Argentina we were lying fourth or fifth again. There are a couple of things that have not gone our way and we could have probably been even further up in the points table. But the main thing is we have been making improvements and if we can carry that on to GB and even straight into next year it will be good.

Crash.net:
Do you feel more confident now going to each event compared to 2007 and 2006?

MW:
For sure - it is just that experience you gain and you are going back to places a third time. Obviously, the more experience you get just the easier it is. I must admit it is definitely a lot easier going in there now and going to these rallies. You just know what to expect. I have driven the 06 or 07 car for the last couple of seasons and you are comfortable with that. You go to any rally now and you look to get into the points. That is what we will try and carry over to next year and keep on improving as well.

Crash.net:
One of the big changes this year was on the tyre front. Do you think Pirelli has done a good job?

MW:
You just have to look at the amount of punctures that there has been and there has not been that many at all - probably the most was Corsica on the tarmac. But apart from that there haven't been many at all. That was the main aim. We didn't want rallies won and lost by punctures - and that hasn't happened. They have done a good job. The only thing that they maybe need to look at is some of the rallies where we have had to use the hard tyre, which maybe wasn't the right choice. But apart from that I don't think there has been anything too major and they seem to have worked quite well on pretty much all the surfaces.

Crash.net:
Do you think any changes need to be made on the tyre front for the future?

MW:
Not really. Argentina was the classic one. We had the hard compound there and it was really, really cold, wet and muddy and in some places it was quite dangerous using the hard tyre. But that is just something they need to look at and look at which tyre they take to which event. If we had had the soft tyre I am sure it would have been a lot better. It is just a case of weighing up and maybe getting some input as to which rallies need which compound. But apart from that they have done a really solid job and as I said, punctures haven't played a massive part. Overall it is fair to say they have done a good job.

Crash.net:
Have you starting thinking about 2009 yet?

MW:
Yeah, obviously you are always looking at the following year and trying to make plans. But the main aim is just to try and finish off the year on a positive note in GB and get another strong result and score some more points. Hopefully that will stand us in good stead for next year and then I am sure once GB is over I will immediately start to think about 2009. However, at the minute, I am just trying to focus on that rally and ending the year positively.

Crash.net:
Do you know if you will definitely be competing and if the Stobart Ford team will again be in action in 2009?

MW:
Everything is looking quite strong and we are just trying to put the final pieces together. We set out with a five-year plan and obviously next year will be year four. Like I said, it is all looking good and we just need to tidy everything up after GB and then look forward to Ireland in 09.

Crash.net:
Have you set yourself any targets for Year 4 in the WRC?

MW:
No, we just want to keep on improving and we have shown signs of that this year. If we can just keep on doing that I will be pleased and maybe we can look for that first podium towards the end of 2009. Then we will just go from there. We don't have any plans. We just want to keep progressing like we have been.

by Rob Wilkins

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

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