Wilson hails Cyprus breakthrough
|By Matt Beer||Sunday, March 15th 2009, 16:50 GMT|
Matthew Wilson believes his fifth place finish in the Cyprus Rally marks a breakthrough in his World Rally Championship career.
The Stobart Ford driver was a distant eighth after day one, having struggled for speed on the asphalt stages.
But he showed much better pace on the two gravel days and charged to fifth - winning a dramatic final leg battle with Sebastien Ogier that saw Wilson fastest of all on the last stage and Ogier crashing out within 200 metres of the finish.
"It has been a brilliant weekend," said Wilson. "I had a slow start on Friday as I struggled on the asphalt but the next two days more than made up for it.
"This signifies a big step forward for me; we pushed hard during the weekend but we were always well within our limits and that's really encouraging."
Wilson's father Malcolm, the head of Ford's WRC operation, said the result vindicated the policy of keeping Matthew on a conservative strategy while he built up experience. The 22-year-old has been under strict orders to build up stage mileage and not take risks during his first three seasons at WRC level.
"He has demonstrated maturity, especially when the fight was on with Ogier, and this is definitely a product of the long term plan we have," said Wilson.
"It goes to show that finishing rallies and gaining experience of the stages is really working for him."
Andrew Tinkler, CEO of team backer Stobart, thinks Wilson's performances will be much stronger after the Cyprus result.
"Matt has demonstrated this weekend that he really has got the potential and speed to win stages," said Tinkler.
"I think something has really clicked for him on this rally and now he can go into Portugal with much more confidence. He really has taken a step forward and shown he can perform under pressure."