Tour de Corse : Stobart M-Sport Ford - Preview
The Mediterranean island of Corsica provides the venue for the latest lesson for Britain's only full-time FIA World Rally Championship driver, Matthew Wilson and his Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team. The squad near a third
of the way through the WRC season with their young British star eager to maintain momentum in his championship-learning rookie year.
The 19 year-old driver from Cumbria is driving a full WRC campaign in 2006, learning the events during the course of a season which takes him to sixteen different rally events around the world in a season starting in January and ending in December.
Whilst most students would encounter Corsica in a history course concerning former French ruler, Napoleon Bonaparte, it's something different altogether different that Wilson has to learn; corners, and lots of them. It's not for nothing that the rally has been christened the 'rally of ten thousand corners'. Wilson and co-driver Michael Orr will not only have to catalogue each and every turn in their pace notes, but have formed an opinion on just how fast they think they should be taken, despite only being able to drive the route at vastly reduced speeds from their stage pace.
As ever, learning the stages is just one factor. The weather too can throw up no end of surprises. For what it's worth, the long term weather forecast is predicting a dry rally with some cloud but plenty of sunshine.
This should mean technique and experience will come to the fore. However, the mountainous region reaching up from sea level can present a number of micro-climates. The weather can change drastically from stage to stage. Just another factor for the aspiring WRC driver to learn.
Joining Wilson for the second event in a row is the Finnish pairing of driver Jari-Matti Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila. Whilst Wilson left Catalunya for training and preparation for the forthcoming event, Latvala was straight back into his national service.
The Stobart VK Rally Team is represented by Barry Clark and Scott Martin, the Scottish driver and English co-driver combination contesting both the Junior World Rally Championship and the one make Fiesta SportingTrophy International. Clark and Martin were involved in an accident in RallyeRACC Catalunya-Costa Daurada where German co-driver Jörg Bastuck sustained injuries and tragically lost his life later in hospital.
Rallye de France-Tour de Corse takes place on April 7-9 and is followed by Rallye Argentina on April 28-30.
"The rallies are coming thick and fast at the moment and Corsica will present another challenge. We've been working on our pace notes and it will be my second tarmac rally in a row with the Focus in full tarmac spec. We're still learning so much with every day of every rally. It's good having Jari-Matti as part of the team as he's only a couple of years older than me and he started the same way I did with the British Rally Championship. "
"I should have had a good result in Spain if I hadn't hit the bridge on Friday so hopefully France should be better. The experience means I feel more confident in the car, and Corsica should be easier as I have done it two times before. I can't guarantee super fast but I hope we can be just a little bit faster than Spain."
"It's been a hard week for everyone concerned after what happened in Spain with what was a terrible freak accident. I am now concentrating on my rallying. Corsica will present a real challenge."
Malcolm Wilson, Team Principal
"Rallye de France-Tour de Course presents yet another event on the calendar for Matthew to learn. There's a lot of difference between the last rally in Spain and this event. It's a lot slower and the tarmac is far more abrasive making tyre choice critical before you even factor in the weather."
Press release Stobart M-Sport Ford