WRC AND ERC ON THE TABLE FOR EDWARDS
New british champion could go international in 2019
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.
Edwards has won three domestic titles
Wilson: Edwards an example
GB leg two win for champ Edwards