Rally Mexico : Stobart M-Sport Ford - Preview
Britain's youngest-ever full-time professional rally driver, 19-year-old Cumbrian Matthew Wilson, will take on the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship in Mexico next week.
The Ford driver arrives in Leon, north
of Mexico City, on a high, after scoring his first WRC point for the Stobart VK M-Sport team on the previous round in Sweden, early last month.
Like the first two rounds of the championship, Rally Mexico will be completely new for Matthew. And this time he won't have a more experienced team-mate to talk tactics with as Luis Perez-Companc has never contested the rally before either. Both drivers will set out with the aim of furthering the team's points tally in the FIA Manufacturers' Championship, particularly as the Stobart VK M-Sport arrive in central America just one point behind Subaru World Rally Team.
After the chilly conditions of the first two rounds of the series, it's all change for Rally Mexico. Around the rally's colourful host city of Leon, temperatures not far short of 20 Celsius can be expected. In the stages, however, it's a different matter. Rally Mexico has the highest average altitude of the season: an average of more than 2,000 metres; stage two (repeated as SS15) climbs to 2,737 metres.
Competing at that kind of altitude brings specific requirements from car, driver and co-driver. Where the air is thin, physical fitness is of paramount importance for the crew and just as the human side of the equation could find themselves short of breath, so will the car. Forced-induction engines, such as the one fitted to Matthew's Focus, rely on a plentiful supply of air. When that's not the case, power is lost. In some places next week, Matthew's Ford like all of the competing cars will lose up to a third of its usual output.
I said from the start of this season that the first two rallies were always going to be quite tough for me; I didn't know too much about Monte Carlo and its ever-changing grip levels and I didn't know much more about Sweden and driving on snow. But, I do know a bit about gravel. The 2005 Focus is just an amazing car to drive on any surface but on gravel, it's absolutely fantastic.
I did a two-day test before this event, with both my rally engineer and Roman Kresta (2005 Ford Team RS driver). Both of them were fantastic, so much help. I worked on all sorts of settings for the car through the two days, and then on each afternoon, Roman got in the car with me and helped me with my driving. We were doing the kind of stuff you just can't do on a rally things like going through corners on totally different lines to see which was the quickest, it was really interesting and tremendously helpful to be able to compare the data.
« I'm really looking forward to getting back in the car after Sweden. My first snow rally was really tough. I had a small accident, which didn't help, but apart from that it was a really enjoyable event. I've never contested Rally Mexico before, either, but at least I've driven on gravel plenty of times so I know a bit more about what to expect. It's such an experience driving the Focus on these rallies.
Malcolm Wilson, Team Principal
Matthew had a very good test in the run-up to Mexico, he accomplished a great deal. Some people think Matthew's done a great deal of testing and shaking down cars. The reality is, however, that last week was actually his first proper world championship-style test. Where he had his rally engineer along with him to talk through changes. He had a great deal to take in, but from the way he was talking after the test, he found it incredibly useful.
Press Release Stobart M-Sport Ford