Stobart Ford World Rally Championship driver Matthew Wilson has been working hard on development of Ford's brand new S2000 Fiesta, and this weekend he is driving it as course car on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge finale in Scotland
At the end of day one, Wilson told AUTOSPORT how the Fiesta was progressing.
Q. Have you changed the Fiesta much?
Matthew Wilson: The team have done quite a few changes to the car, yes. This is an extension of the long test programme for the car, so Christian [Loriaux, M-Sport technical director] has been changing the dampers and various other settings to see what the car will do and how it will react.
Q. That's probably not the quickest way?
MW: It's not really, but that's not what this is all about for us. It is a test, but we are looking at the times and comparing the car with the others.
Q. And how is it comparing?
MW: Good. Yes, it's going really well. The two guys at the front [Kris Meeke and Guy Wilks] are in a bit of a battle of their own, but we'd be in the mix for third. It's quite hard to really compare the times though, as you don't get the same feeling for competition when you're running the zero car.
For example, when we had the problem with the screen in Drummond Hill, we backed off straight away. If we'd been competing we would have pressed on, but we need to put more miles on the car, so it was crucial that we got through the stages.
Q. It must be a bit strange to be competing, but not really competing?
MW: It is a bit, yes. You don't quite get the same feeling for the rally when you're not in the mix and battling, but, like I said, in the weather conditions like we've had on this event, it's been quite nice not to have to be going flat out and risking everything.
One of the other things which was a bit odd was when we came into service yesterday. The tyres had been running well, but we were so used to the World Rally Championship regulations that we almost forgot we could cut them to make the grip even better. Once we did that in the afternoon, the grip was tremendous.
It's easy to forget, though, that these conditions were absolutely new to us yesterday morning. We had never tested this car in wet and muddy roads.
The fifth Intercontinental Rally Challenge was the best yet, and it was Skoda UK driver Andreas Mikkelsen who emerged as champion from a tense five-way shootout at the season finale. Matt Beer reviews the season