30 Jul 09
In this latest blog from Airwaves Pro Matthew Wilson, we find out his thoughts on the upcoming Rally Finland and why he reckons Mikko Hirvonen could take his maiden victory on home gravel...
“In Finland you need to get everything right in order to do well. The margins get even smaller on the Finnish gravel so you need to get everything on your side. We saw last year Mikko was beaten by Loeb by just nine seconds and I was surprised that there wasn’t national outrage that a Finnish driver didn’t win the rally!
It is more than a motorsport out here; it is a way of life. Young Finns are brought up driving on these roads and tend to adapt to the varying conditions better than anybody else. It is going to be hard to see anybody else, even Finland’s own Formula 1 prodigal son Kimi Raikkonen breaking into the top four - those spots will be dominated by the works cars. Mikko [Hirvonen] in his works BP Abu Dhabi Ford Focus is my prediction to win the rally with team mate Jari-Matti [Latvala] in second. The Citroen boys will be in third and fourth, Loeb then Dani Sordo.
Fifth place will be where the real battle is. Petter and Henning, the Solberg brothers, are consistently strong so will be there or thereabouts and will be my main challengers for a top five finish. If I get some of the luck and I kick up a gear and drive like I know I can then I would like to see myself in that fifth spot.
Finland really sets the standard in terms of rallies. The organisation is unbelievable, the fans absolutely mad about rallying and the stages the most dramatic in the WRC calendar. There are only about five million people in Finland and I think every single one of them comes out to watch the racing live on the stages!
The stages are stunning and have been the same ones now for the last thirty of forty years. Finland is famed for huge jumps and it is not the ones you know about that scare you; more the jumps that you think aren’t jumps and catch you by surprise!
It’s great having Kimi in the field for this weekend. There is lots of mutual respect amongst drivers in different motorsport disciplines and healthy rivalry as well. At the moment in my career I wouldn’t consider a switch to any other motorsport permanently but you can never say never in the future.
One event that I love is Le Mans. In many respects it is similar to rallying because of the endurance aspect of it. The drivers drive through the night, they have to vary their speed a lot and really work as a team like me, Scott [Martin] and the mechanics do on every rally. We’ll see, but for now my main focus is doing my best for the team and myself in the WRC and remaining as consistent as I possibly can be.”
To find out more about Matthew and the Airwaves Pro campaign visit www.airwaves-pro.tv