Matthew Wilson says he is aiming for improved consistency in the 2009 World Rally Championship - and if he can achieve that, he believes his breakthrough rostrum finish is a realistic target too.

In his third full season in the WRC in 2008 - the third year of father Malcolm's five-year plan for him at the highest level - Wilson Jnr finished inside the points on six occasions, with a best result of a strong fifth place on the inaugural Rally Jordan in April.

There was also a front-running performance in Japan six months later, where he was battling for fourth spot until he arrived first on the scene of the horrific accident involving Ford team-mates Fran?ois Duval and co-driver Patrick Pivato and, clearly affected by what he saw, thereafter slipped back to seventh.

It was, the 21-year-old acknowledged, on the whole an encouraging campaign - and now he aims to make even more improvements again in 2009, with the podium, he contends, an achievable goal.

"I enjoyed it," Wilson told Crash.net Radio, reflecting on last season. "We had a good year and made some good improvements I think. There were some good rallies for us at the start of the year - Jordan was brilliant - and even in the second half of the year, with the times we did in Japan and that sort of thing. It was a good year, and we just need to try and build on it this year and try and keep on improving.

"The aim is to try and take a big step, be fighting regularly in the top five or six and be more consistent as well. We've had certain rallies where we've been really fast for a day and then maybe had a bad day and then been quicker again on the last day.

"It's just now about trying to string it all together and get three good days - that's when the results will come. I'd like to think [I can score a podium]. It's got to be an aim for the year, definitely. I've got to try, and we'll be giving it a good go. I'm looking forward to it; it's going to be good."

Wilson went on to explain that whilst he would not miss Monaco too much - an event on which he has not finished any higher than tenth in the past three years - he is unsure of what Rally Ireland, its replacement as the season curtain-raiser at the end of this month, will hold for the drivers.

Beyond that, the Stobart VK M-Sport ace suggested that the main focus for all teams involved would be simply to survive, following the loss of both Suzuki and - far more unexpectedly - Subaru at the end of the 2008 campaign.

"Not really," he replied, when asked if he is sad about Monaco's absence from the calendar. "Don't get me wrong - it's a great opening rally with the glamour of it all and all that sort of thing - but in terms of the stages and the rally itself it was always difficult and not a drivers' favourite I don't think. Probably Ireland is going to be much the same, though! It will be difficult conditions I imagine out there, but we'll see.

"I think this year will just be a year to try and survive really, and to try and keep the manufacturers that are there, and then hopefully next year it will come back stronger and we'll get some more manufacturers in. I think if the teams that are here can just get through it and keep their heads above water, that will be the aim for the year.

"Obviously it's going to be hard times losing two manufacturers and entries are down and that sort of thing, but you've just got to make the most of it and the teams that are there are just going to have to try and do their best.

"Suzuki wasn't so much of a shock - it had been talked about since the middle of the year, and it was on and it was off and it was on and it was off - but definitely the Subaru thing was. They've been involved with the championship now for however many years and are part of rallying really, so yeah, that was a big shock.

"Hopefully [the advent of Super 2000 next year will help] - we need something. I don't know whether it's the answer or not, but something needs to happen. We need to get the manufacturers back - that's the key - and anything that can do that, everybody will be for it I think."

by Russell Atkins