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GP Week : Issue 63
a more horrific feeling when you looked at the car and the mess we had both been in. The first time I drove a rally car afterwards was in a test in Cumbria, I felt great, felt fine, I realised how much I had been missing it all, but when we went to the start line of the first actual rally afterwards it really hit home. My heart was pounding like mad, the first couple of miles was really difficult but we got through them and after that it was fine. It felt like I had never been away. Suddenly we realised I had lost time in life to catch up..." There was one other factor about that crash which was really strange: "There were so many similarities with the accident my Dad had -- like the stage in our rally driving careers when the accident happened; what we had both achieved up to that point of time; even the fact that after I came back I won the Trackrod Rally, my first international rally win ... he did the same a couple of rallies after he came back ..." Matthew is now 22 and the sport has chnged a lot. More young drivers are coming into the sport: "That is what the sport needs, for sure! An early start to your career gives a great advantage." Ireland was his 50th World Championship Rally start: "If I can give any advice to other young drivers, it is to try to get to world championship rallies just as soon as you can. With world championship events rotating more these days, eventogoto a rallyjusttodo the recce, you are acquiring knowledge all the time. "When you look at some of the top drivers in the sport, some of them have done the rallies maybe 10 times, and that is the sort of experience you will be up against. It is not just to get specific experience it is also to teach you adaptability and the chance to experience first hand the top level of competition. You can go and succeed at rallies in Britain and Ireland and do quite well, but the level of competition in the world championship is something unbelievable. "Years ago, we in Britain had drivers like Hannu Mikkola and Ari Vatanen coming to our national rallies in between world championship rallies and that gave you a great chance to check out your speed against them but you don't get the chance to do that except on world championship rallies any more. That is the big difference now. People get a big shock nowadays at how good these top drivers are." So, where does Matthew's future lie? "I want to get to the highest level in rally driving as I can. I want to get into a full works team, my main aim, and want to win rallies and get podium positions, and hopefully the chance to challenge for a World Championship. "We need to keep making progress. Every year for me so far has been a big step forward, especially the last couple of years getting back together with Scott again. There are a lot of things to aim for." For a couple of years Matthew held the record for being the youngest driver to win a stage on a world championship rally, the stadium stage in Rally Argentina in 2006. "The youngest World Wilson finished sixth at the recent Rally Australia 40