Most recently, I wrote about Rally di Alba, from which Hyundai WRC team boss A. Adamo made a celebration in Italy with his connections and enthusiasm, even bigger than the European Rally Championship event that took place in Rome. Now a tribute to the local rally community is made by another man in charge of the WRC team. This time it’s Malcolm Wilson and M-Sport. So M-Sport Return to Rally Stages.
In fact, it all really got symbolically. The Malcolm Wilson Rally, which is the event for a wide range of lower-tier UK championships, took place on 14 March this year. This ride near the M-Sport base was the last rally before banning rallying events in the UK. The British rally slept for a long time, but eventually as restrictions eased, Malcolm Wilson began making plans to create at least some tests for his clients. From that plan of simple tests grew the idea of organizing a real rally. And the same M-Sport customers, as well as the local government, and a bunch of partners who awarded prizes and otherwise helped to make the event very quickly contributed to the realization of that idea. Cars roared in the Greystoke area, just 40 miles east of the M-Sport base. In other words, M. Wilson and M-Sport closed and reopened the rally season in the UK in their backyard.
And the event itself was a real British test. 6 special stages, 60 kilometers. Narrow forest roads leave no room for error, an area that is constantly wetter and cooler, and on the day of the rally, there was a British rain. So conditions are like in the legendary WRC Wales Rally. More than 45 cars gathered for this wet and cool feast, all of which were made up to one at two M-Sport bases. The first and the main one is right next door, and the second one is in Krakow, which specializes in the production of Ford Fiesta R2 / Rally 4 cars. Among those 45 cars are probably all of Ford’s most famous modern rally cars. Starting with the Ford Fiesta WRC 2017, driven by boss son Matthew Wilson, and ending with legends such as the Ford Focus WRC 2007, M.Martin’s Focus 2005, or the bubble 2002 Focus. There are also a bunch of Fiesta R5’s which in the UK have a variety of specifications, such as with a 2.0-liter engine. Only one car stood out quite clearly from the entire fleet. It was the Ford Escort MK2 that played the role of course car and even Malcolm Wilson himself decided to drive it. Richard Millener, who directly leads the M-Sport team in the World Rally Championship, emerged to turn the wheel.
Unofficially, the rally was won by Matthew Wilson with the Ford Fiesta WRC 2017. But he and two other crews, A.Fourmaux and R.Yates who lined up after Matthew in the final results, were eliminated from standings for a very simple reason. All three of them are representatives of the M-Sport team and know these roads as well as possible, as the team often conducts tests in the vicinity of the M-Sport base. So, to be fairer to the other participants, the trio did not remain in the final results. Therefore, the official winner was Frank Bird with the Ford Focus WRC 2007.
By the way, for one person, this holiday was a bit sour. And not to anyone else, but to Malcolm Wilson, the organizer of the whole affair. With a tracksuit, embarrassingly he had to return to the service area without the historic Ford Escort, which unfortunately remained in the woods of Cumbria. Wheel in a ditch, the steering wheel knocked out of the hands, and eventually the stumps made their own – Ford rolled several times, forcing the team’s mechanics to roll up their sleeves. Wilson commented that it is endlessly fun to get back to the special stages at the wheel of a sports car, but this activity is now much more challenging than he remembers. Old age, Mr. Malcolm, old age.
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Photo – M-Sport Facebook page