Wilson’s M-sport operation ran four cars on the Monte for the Qatar and Qatar M-Sport teams. But despite coming away from the opening round with a solitary sixth place for 25-year-old Mads Ostberg, Wilson was encouraged by the speed shown by each of his young drivers.
Evgeny Novikov, 22, took two stage wins and was third overall before a crash two stages before the finish. Juho Hanninen, 31, was fastest on SS9 but also retired on the final day after breaking a wheel. Thierry Neuville (24) was fifth when he crashed on the opening day.
“I truly believe we’ve got the next crop of potential world champions in our team,” said Wilson. “Okay, it was disappointing to lose Evgeny so close to the end, and Juho and Mads had their own issues, but from my point of view the fact that every single one of my drivers set a fastest time is a huge positive. And that includes Thierry, who was fastest at shakedown.
“We go away from the first round with a lot of confidence and really motivated because we can see the potential is there. Okay, there are going to be hiccups but that’s because they are young drivers.
“I’m sure I’m going to have a few more events like this but it’s so exciting to work with these youngsters. And having seen the performance that Evgeny did there’s no question there’s potential for wins throughout the season.”