29 May 09
Airwaves Pro Matthew Wilson spoke to wrc.com on his return from Sardinia to give us the low-down on his season so far, young British rally hopes, and his chance of a podium this season.
How did you get on at the Rally d'Italia, Sardegna?
"Apart from a broken hydraulic pipe on day one, it was a decent rally overall. I lost about a minute and a half on the first day which meant that I was in no man's land from then on. I was too far away from the leaders really to worry about them so I just concentrated on myself on days two and three and ended up sixth overall. That leaves me seventh in the championship on 15 points. That's the same number of points I got over the whole 2008 season. To have equalled my points haul for last year in only six rallies is really encouraging.
What about the rest of this season?
"Bearing in mind we are at the halfway stage now I am really looking to kick up a gear in the second half of the season. I would be absolutely delighted to get on the podium and I think it is a real possibility if I keep driving the way I am and keep on getting the car to the end. We just need a bit of good fortune; it would be amazing if, by the time we come round to Rally GB in Wales, I could be standing on the podium in Swansea!
My aim is to get as close as I can to that dream, keep on lowering my times, keep on putting in quick sector times on each stage and then hopefully it will come to me. It would be a dream come true to be up on the podium in Wales."
Is Ford's title challenge over this year?
"I think the manufacturers' title race is really on now. We needed that win in Sardinia to kick start our season and hopefully from now on you will be seeing a lot more blue ovals at the top of the leaderboard in WRC. Our confidence has grown with Jari-Matti's win. If we can continue to push hard in the next two or three rounds and keep getting points finishes then we will be in for a very good shout."
How tough is it for young British drivers to make their way in the WRC?
"There is no doubt that one of the most difficult things for up and coming drivers is finding the funding to compete. What we are seeing though are several very good initiatives for young drivers to help encourage them and accelerate their advancement. The MSA British rally elite scheme is really good example - and with the launch of the Academy now as well they are really helping to encourage young talent to flourish. They certainly helped me when I was coming through the ranks.
In addition, the launch of the new Fiesta R2 looks set to help encourage grass roots participation in the sport. It's a new initiative I am firmly behind."
What are you up to between now and Rally Greece?
"I have a bit if testing to do before the rally. I am hoping for another good finish there to kick start the rest of my season and my hunt for a podium."