MATT ED­WARDS: GIANTKILLER I

Join­ing a tough BRC crowd, star man has faced ad­ver­sity be­fore. By Jack Benyon

Motor Sport News - - Edwards Ready For Brc - CV

t’s in the face of ad­ver­sity that a per­son’s break­ing point will be tested to the limit. For Matt Ed­wards that came on Novem­ber 11, 2014. The Roger Al­bert Clark Rally.

On the fi­nal day, the clerk of the course dis­cov­ered a notepad con­tain­ing pre-event re­search in co-driver Paul Mor­ris’ bag. They were thrown out of the lead and the event de­spite hav­ing un­marked maps. They also of­fered all their on­board videos from the event to the clerk to prove the note­book hadn’t been used, as the event doesn’t al­low pacenotes. They were given the chance to check in early and take a penalty at the fi­nal check­point, or carry on and risk ex­clu­sion. Ed­wards elected to con­tinue.

With­out a spe­cial mo­ment be­tween Ed­wards and long-term backer and friend Peter Smith, this fea­ture would be about a driver whose ca­reer had ended. Not begin­ning.

Now Ed­wards has clinched the Bri­tish Rally Cham­pi­onship’s BRC 2 divi­sion in his Swift Car­a­vans­backed Mit­subishi Lancer E9, he is only look­ing for­wards.

“If it wasn’t for Pete be­ing there when it was all un­fold­ing, giv­ing me a hug when I was in bits, I reckon I’d have stopped ral­ly­ing there and then,” says Ed­wards. “I’ll never for­get what he said: ‘you won’t be judged on what’s hap­pened, it’s how you deal with it af­ter’. And that was some­thing that will stay with me.”

Ed­wards had been to the crew who were sec­ond – Matthew Robin­son and Sam Col­lis – to tell them the sit­u­a­tion, as Ed­wards ex­plains: “I didn’t want [Robin­son] go­ing hell for leather try­ing to pull back 20s on us if we knew we were go­ing to get ex­cluded any­way. Sam is one of my best mates and he was the best man at my wed­ding. I didn’t want him get­ting hurt and Robbo too. I love com­pe­ti­tion: that’s what we all do it for at the end of the day.”

And that could have so eas­ily been the end of the ca­reer for Ed­wards, but thanks to Smith and his fam­ily, he was back for more in the new year.

Speak­ing of fam­ily, that’s where Ed­wards’ rally story started. His fa­ther – Alyn – is the Cam­brian clerk of the course and Wales Rally GB or­gan­iser, not to men­tion for­mer na­tional ral­ly­ing com­peti­tor. It wasn’t long be­fore Matt was fol­low­ing in his fa­ther’s foot­steps. He took to the stages for the first time back in 2004 in a Vaux­hall As­tra.

“I bought the shell with­out telling my dad,” he re­calls. “The first thing he heard about it was that we needed a trailer to go and pick it up.”

The As­tra was a suc­cess­ful prov­ing ground for Ed­wards. Af­ter a hand­ful of events in 2005, he won his class in the ANWCC cham­pi­onship and in 2007 he con­quered the BTRDA B8 class for eight-valve 1400-litre cars. It was where his David-and-go­liath rep­u­ta­tion be­gan.

Af­ter suc­cess­ful one-offs in Ge­off Jones’ cars – who Ed­wards worked with at the time – it was time for a step up and Ed­wards took on a young Craig Breen in the Fi­esta Tro­phy in the BRC in 2009. While Ed­wards was work­ing for M-sport re­build­ing Breen’s gear­boxes, he was as­sem­bling his own Fi­esta in a three-sided barn from dis­carded parts. It went pretty well.

“We were sec­ond on the Mal­colm Wil­son, the first round, and we won the Bull­dog,” adds Ed­wards. “Craig Breen had done the recce and was do­ing the in­ter­na­tional event, we did the rally on the tyres we fin­ished the Mal­colm Wil­son on and beat him on ev­ery stage. Craig was quite new to it.

CAR

Skoda Fabia R5 Ford Fi­esta R5 Mit­subishi Lancer E9 Skoda Fabia R5 Ford Fi­esta R5 Ford Fi­esta R5 Peu­geot 208 R2 Mit­subishi Lancer E10 Opel Adam R2 Opel Adam R2

Ed­wards shone in BRC 2 Jbk jkkb kjkb bkbkjk­bkjkb

Fi­esta was built in a her­mit barn Ed­wards’ ral­ly­ing started in the grass­roots As­tra with fa­ther, Alyn

Ed­wards has drawn ad­mir­ers

Ed­wards Mk2 was prob­lem­atic

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.