WRC AND ERC ON THE TABLE FOR ED­WARDS

New british cham­pion could go in­ter­na­tional in 2019

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - By Jack Benyon

Matt Ed­wards could com­pete in the World or Eu­ro­pean Rally Cham­pi­onships next year, af­ter seal­ing the British Rally Cham­pi­onship ti­tle last week­end on Wales Rally GB.

Welsh­man Ed­wards wrapped up the ti­tle af­ter 15 years in ral­ly­ing, with nine of those backed by Swift Car­a­vans boss Pete Smith.

With a two-year bid to win the BRC, also adding the Welsh and BTRDA Cham­pi­onships in an un­prece­dented hat-trick this year, Smith is now work­ing on a pro­gramme for Ed­wards next year.

“Whether it’s BRC, Eu­ro­pean Rally Cham­pi­onship or even WRC2, we’re not yet sure,” said Smith. “We want to see what comes. It’s on­go­ing all the time, but fund­ing the thing is dif­fi­cult.

“The way I do things is I do re­quire a con­tri­bu­tion of some sort be­cause that’s their com­mit­ment, you can’t have it all for free.

“I will talk to Guy [Smith, son of Peter and 2003 Le Mans win­ner] and his com­pany Green­light. One of its jobs is to find spon­sor­ship for peo­ple not only in mo­tor­sport but in foot­ball, rugby and things like that – so he’s on the case and will try and bring in some ex­tra fund­ing.”

Af­ter win­ning the three rounds pre­ced­ing Rally GB, Ed­wards had a punc­ture and clipped a bank which re­sulted in break­ing a bracket on the rear-right hub on leg one. Even so, he fin­ished third on the first leg which was enough to give him the ti­tle.

One per­son prais­ing Ed­wards achieve­ments was M-sport boss Mal­colm Wil­son, who be­lieves Ed­wards’ can be an in­spi­ra­tion to other club­men driv­ers, if they have enough am­bi­tion.

“The way Matt has evolved through­out the sea­son is bril­liant,” said Wil­son. “There’s some­body who has been try­ing for so long and never re­ally had that break and now Peter has come along and given him that chance.

“What’s been the key is he’s had so much seat time. That for me makes you re­alise the more seat time you get – es­pe­cially if you have that hunger to suc­ceed as well – you can see what can be done.

“It’s a clas­sic case for any young driver. You never know what op­por­tu­ni­ties are around the door, I’m sure if you asked Matt three years ago if this op­por­tu­nity had have arisen he would have just said ‘in his wildest dreams’.

“I al­ways said in my ear­lier days, if you’re de­ter­mined enough you’ll al­ways find a way to get the money or the chance. I think this is a clas­sic case with Matt.”

With the sea­son now at an end af­ter 12 ral­lies, the north Wales driver is hope­ful of re­turn­ing to his trusty R5 for next sea­son, the mo­ti­va­tion still be­ing there.

“Hope­fully this isn’t as far as I go but if it is as far as I go then I’m happy,” added Ed­wards. “It was never even re­al­is­tic for me to achieve this. With­out Pete and Swift’s sup­port, it wasn’t re­al­is­tic.

“Group N was re­al­is­tic be­cause the bud­get was there for that but any­thing more than that didn’t look achiev­able,” said Ed­wards, who won the BRC Group N ti­tle in 2016. “But we got this far and any­thing else is not achiev­able in that sense.

“So I’m happy I’ve achieved what I set out to do. That doesn’t mean there isn’t am­bi­tion to do more, but I’ve al­ways been re­al­is­tic about my bud­get. I’ll be try­ing and I won’t stop try­ing. But I have to be grate­ful.”

Ed­wards and Smith have not ruled out re­turn­ing to de­fend the BRC ti­tle, but are work­ing on a deal to step up to in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion.

Pho­tos: Jakob Ebrey, mck­lein-im­age­database.com, Chi­cane Me­dia

Ed­wards has won three do­mes­tic ti­tles

Wil­son: Ed­wards an ex­am­ple

GB leg two win for champ Ed­wards

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