Stobart Ford's Matthew Wilson is feeling confident about scoring his best WRC result of the year on asphalt at the newly located Rallye de France this coming weekend.
The 23-year-old has worked hard to improve the handling of his Ford Focus RS WRC car on asphalt this year. At Rally Bulgaria, the first all-tarmac event of the season, Wilson finished ninth. However, at the next asphalt WRC round in Germany the Briton showed increased speed on a sealed surface to finish sixth overall.
Now despite the fact the event has shifted to Strasbourg, the Cumbrian will be looking to match his best result of the season - a top-five, achieved in Jordan at the start of the season.
Furthermore with reports that the new stages are similar to Rallye Deutschland's fast asphalt tests, the youngster will travel to France believing he can produce another strong performance.
“It's going to be really strange going to a French WRC round but not being based in Corsica – the island is all I ever associate this rally with so it's taking a bit of getting used to!” Wilson said. “Judging the correct set-up could be tricky at this event as I've heard the stages are very mixed - some sections will be very fast and open but other parts are slow, tight and twisty with broken tarmac. I haven't seen much footage yet but this is just what I've heard.
“As it is a brand new location, it's also going to make the recce extremely important – we'll have to make a new set of notes so there's going to be a lot of pressure to ensure we get everything right.
“I'm feeling much more confident driving on asphalt now – we had a good result in Germany and some of the stages in Alsace sound quite similar to the Trier-based event so hopefully this will pay off when we go to France next week.”
Meanwhile, Monster World Rally Team's Ken Block will be nominated for the first time to score manufacturer points in the #6 Stobart M-Sport Ford car. Wilson's regular team-mate Henning Solberg will also be entered under the Stobart banner in France but he will be back behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta Super 2000. The Norwegian will return to drive the Ford Focus RS WRC at the season ending Wales Rally GB in November.
“I really enjoyed driving the Ford Fiesta S2000 in Bulgaria, the car handled very well and drives nicely on tarmac,” Henning added. “Germany did not go so well for me, I had a few problems but when everything was running smoothly and I felt comfortable with the car I had some fast times.
"For sure, this will be a very difficult event for everyone as the stages are new but I just want to get more experience of the car and hope for a good result at the end.”