Matthew Wilson was left toasting his finest result ever on Rally Finland last weekend, with a sixth-place finish that his father and Stobart M-Sport Ford team principal Malcolm Wilson reflected was an 'impressive' achievement.
The young British star ran seventh on the first day, but was elevated to P6 when team-mate Henning Solberg crashed out. The 23-year-old maintained that position on Saturday morning's lengthy stages, before the pursuing Mads Østberg began to narrow the deficit – and after the former encountered steering problems on his Focus WRC, the gap between the pair came down to barely half a minute.
Coping admirably with the pressure being applied on him by the Adapta Subaru privateer, Wilson ultimately held on by a fraction over seven seconds at the close, winding up just under six minutes adrift of popular rally winner Jari-Matti Latvala to better by two positions the eighth place he and co-driver Scott Martin had claimed on the event twelve months earlier. The eight points that accompanied it have also consolidated the Cumbria native's seventh spot in the drivers' standings.
“I'm really happy to have finished sixth on this rally,” enthused Wilson. ”We maintained a steady pace throughout, and it's definitely paid off. It's always a difficult event to do well on, as there are so many locals competing who know the stages very well.
”Saturday morning's stages were tricky, but we managed to keep everything under control. There was something wrong with my steering towards the end of the day – I think the car may have go back to the workshop and be fully stripped and checked. It was getting close with Østberg towards the end, but we made it out in front which was a great ending to a very difficult rally.”
Despite Solberg's retirement, the Stobart M-Sport Ford Rally Team still managed to leave the eighth round of the 2010 FIA World Rally Championship with a healthy haul of ten points, enabling the Cumbrian-based squad to remain fourth in the manufacturers' table.
“I'm very happy that Matthew has managed to produce his best-ever result in Finland,” underlined Wilson Snr. “It is undoubtedly one of the hardest rallies of the championship, and with so many local entries competing this year, it is an impressive result.”