Image courtesy of Conor Edwards Photography
Dream Debut for Edwards
22nd August 2016
Making his British Rally Championship debut in the new Swift Group Ford Fiesta R5, Old Colwyn’s Matt Edwards took a fine 11th overall on the weekends Ulster Rally.
Having already wrapped up the BRC2 title in his Mitsubishi, Edwards took a step up to the leading BRC1 category after he was announced as the driver for the newly formed Swift Rally Team. “It’s an honour to be given the opportunity to drive in the top flight of British motorsport, Swift have a great rally car and I hope to do them proud in it.” Said Edwards.
Based in Derry, Londonderry the Ulster Rally takes in the infamous bumpy Irish lanes around the north coast and weather was to play a crucial part in the events outcome. With pouring rain, Edwards was go get his first taste of the new machine on the events Shakedown stage, a pre-event run usually for fine tuning a car – not undertaking your first competitive mileage. “The shakedown gave us a chance to settle into the car, the event itself we be our shakedown!” Explained Edwards.
Joining the Welshman was regular navigator Will Rogers and a late afternoon start saw crews head into the opening loop of three stages. The focus for the team was to ensure the crew made the finish so there was to be a no risk approach to the weekend. This approach didn’t save them from an early puncture though, costing the Morris Lubricants-backed crew nearly a minute and dropping them to the edge of the Top 20.
An evening repeat of the three stages closed off day one and a sensible approach saw Edwards climb back to 14th overall, setting a sixth fastest time along the way demonstrating the potential of the Swift Fiesta R5 and Edwards’ pace. “It’s been a tricky evening; conditions are hard to call so choosing the correct DMack tyre has been difficult, we’ve aired on the side of caution.” Said Edwards.
Day two featured two loops of four stages and the weather continued to make tyre choice difficult, but as the pair increased confidence in the capabilities of the new machine more top ten stage times followed and they found themselves tenth overall as they reached the final service. Rain began to fall and once again tyres were the talk of the rally, Edwards and Rogers took the safe option and ran on a full wet tyre.
As crews reached the final loop of stages the weather had moved on and the roads began to dry leaving Edwards on the wrong tyres. “It was the safest option we could take, the drying roads resulted in them going off for the final two stages and allowed Cave through.” Explained Edwards, who was to finish the event in 11th overall having been pipped to a top ten result by championship contender Tom Cave.
“This result has exceeded our expectations, with no seat time in the car on tarmac before the rally it really was a case of learning as we go. There are some promising stage times from the two days and plenty of data to look at before we head to the Isle of Man.” Said Edwards, who will compete on the season finale in September when the British Rally Championship comes to an end with the legendary Rally Isle Of Man.
Images courtesy of ni:media Image courtesy of Black Mountain Media
Edwards Becomes British Champion
12th July 2016
Colwyn Bay’s Matt Edwards became British Champion this weekend taking another class win leaving him uncatchable in the BRC2 category.
Driving his self-prepared Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, Edwards tackled the two-day Nicky Grist Stages Rally with Cinderford’s Will Rogers alongside. Supported as ever by Swift Group, the pairing again impressed the crowds as they held a top ten position overall after the first day on the gravel stages surrounding the Epynt Ranges. “The first day has gone to plan; we only need to finish to take the championship so it is difficult to stay focused. The car is running superbly, the DMack tyres are working brilliantly.” Said Edwards.
A new addition to the event, the second day was to feature tarmac stages over the military roads. This meant Edwards and his support crew were given just over two hours to convert the car to tarmac specification to deal with the smooth undulating roads. The mechanics changed the full suspension and set up before fitting the larger wheels and specialised DMack tyres before nearly sixty-stage miles of damp roads on Sunday.
“The car is not far off standard, so we’re just playing the waiting game today. My experience on tarmac is some way off the other crews, along with the performance of their R5 specification cars. We aim to be here at the finish.” Explained Edwards.
The rain continued to fall over the ranges and Edwards was to drop two places to end the event in 12th place. The Morris Lubricants backed crew were to maintain their class win and therefore take the championship with both the Ulster and double-header on the Isle of Man remaining. “This is a brilliant feeling.” Said Edwards at the picturesque finish in Builth Wells, “This is a sign of perseverance and drive, we’ve done most of the work on the car ourselves and with the help of C1-R but we must thank our supporters in Swift Group, DMack Tyres, Morris Lubricants and everyone for their belief in us this season.”
Championship hopes for Edwards
July 4th 2016
As the MSA British Rally Championship (BRC) enters its second half, Colwyn Bay’s Matt Edwards looks to complete his championship aspirations by taking the BRC2 category with three rounds remaining.
The Nicky Grist Stages this weekend will be a new challenge for the crews of the BRC as Saturday stages take in the infamous forests of Crychan, Route 60 and Halfway before an overnight service will allow teams to change the set-up of the cars for the fast-flowing tarmac stages on Epynt Military Ranges, and the Swift Group backed driver is excited at the challenge. “This event offers a new twist, events are usually either tarmac or gravel and the format of this event is reminiscent of the 70’s and 80’s when the Welsh Rally used to take in both surfaces.”
Leading the BRC2 category, the Morris Lubricants supported team have also broken into the top ten of the overall standings in the series. “People keep saying we are putting on giant killing performances, we’re just doing what we set out to do. The car is well prepared, the driver and navigator are well prepared and everything is looked at in great detail.” Explained Edwards.
Guiding Edwards over the two days will be regular navigator Will Rogers, the pair maximising their trust in each other having being competing together for the past few years. Also key this weekend will be tyres, Edwards has recently been trialling some UK-made DMack Tyres and is keen to put them back on the car. “The DMack’s were being used as a test and they’ve performed brilliantly. And obviously this weekend we get to use both the gravel and tarmac variations they have on offer.” Said Edwards.
Based in Builth Wells, the crews are joined by the national BTRDA and Welsh Rally Championships to provide spectators a bumper-packed two days of rallying. A successful weekend of points will ensure Edwards and Rogers become un-catchable in the BRC2 category with the Ulster Rally and double header on the Isle of Man’s Manx Rally remaining.
Scottish Success for Edwards
June 18th 2016
Extending his class lead in the British Rally Championship, Matt Edwards from Colwyn Bay once again demonstrated his pace on the weekends Scottish Rally to take a class victory and seventh overall.
Edwards was again joined by Will Rogers from Cinderford and the pair entered the rally with a commanding class lead and were looking to further their championship campaign. “The aim for this weekend is points, we have a lead that means we could claim the title before the end of the season so a finish is vital for us and our supporters.” Said Edwards with continued support from Swift Group.
The event was based in the forests north of Dumfries and the British crews were joined by those competing in the Scottish Rally Championship. Edwards set off early Saturday morning before heading onto the damp forestry roads and despite not competitively driving his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution for over a month said, “We’ve not been in this car for a month and we’re trying some new British-made DMack Tyres on the car for the first time and they’re working really well in these tricky conditions.”
Settling into a class lead, Edwards and Rogers were also holding their own against the more powerful machinery that feature heavily in both the British and Scottish series’. “We put a lot of work into preparation before an event, myself on the car and Will on the pace notes. When we get to an event we can just get on with concentrate on the job in hand as we have the confidence every minute detail covered.” As Edwards held a position just outside the top ten as the half way service got underway at Dumfries.
As the afternoon run of stages ran into dusk, the Morris Lubricants supported crew maintained a pace that was to see them hold on for the class win and take a place inside the top ten overall in the British Rally Championship section. “It’s been another good day, the car has run faultlessly and Will has been great on the notes. This puts us into a really strong position for the class championship when we head to the Nicky Grist Stages in two week’s time.”
With a short period of time between the events, Edwards has a race against time to re-prepare his Mitsubishi in readiness for the two-day event based on Epynt Ranges. The Nicky Grist Stages will be a unique challenge as the first day features gravel forestry roads before the cars will be transformed to run on tarmac military roads.
Dream debut disappointment for Edwards
June 12th 2016
Colwyn Bay’s Matt Edwards realised a boyhood dream on Saturday, as he competed on the DMack Carlisle Stages in a works-prepared Ford Fiesta R5 Evolution rally car.
Experienced rally legend John Millington joined Edwards in the M-Sport prepared car for the BTRDA Rally Championship round after the Welshman impressed his sponsors Swift Group and DMack Tyres in this year’s MSA British Rally Championship. “We currently have a commanding lead in our class. We are campaigning a Group N specification Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and the Fiesta we have here is a completely different animal. Our Mitsubishi is converted to rally, but this Fiesta was built too.” Said Edwards.
With only a short 20km test before the event, Edwards was jumping in at the deep end with his first competitive event in the left-hand drive machine. A short opening stage was to see Edwards and Millington take second fastest time as the Swift Group backed driver acclimatised to the new car and navigator. A longer second stage then saw the pair take a fastest stage time and move into the lead of the rally.
Edwards extended his lead on stage three before the crews headed into the mid-point service in Carlisle. “The car is amazing, we’re building up so much confidence and fluency in the corners. We can commit so much more than I am used too, I’m finishing every stage with a great big smile, this is such an opportunity for me. I certainly didn’t expect to be leading.” Explained Edwards.
Entering the penultimate stage of the day though, the M-Sport run pair were unaware of what lay ahead when electrical issues put pay to the progress they had made in the morning. Dropping over three minutes in the stage the car was unable to continue forcing Edwards to retire from what was a promising debut in the car. “It is disappointing, but what we achieved this morning is much greater than I expected. I must thank Pete Smith of Swift Group and the guys at DMack Tyres for giving me this opportunity, those British made tyres were working well in such a technical forest as Kielder. And obviously M-Sport, for providing me with such a machine.” Said Edwards. “We can take so many positives from today and will now look forward to the next round of the British Rally Championship.”
Edwards will return to his self-prepared Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution on the RSAC Scottish Rally in two weeks’ time.
Image courtesy of Joshua Folks - Hairpin Motorsport Media
Edwards Goes ‘R5’ In Carlisle
June 8th 2016
Colwyn Bay’s Matt Edwards will venture to Carlisle this weekend, as he tackles the DMack Carlisle Stages in a new vehicle after impressing his sponsors Swift Group and DMack Tyres.
Having spent the majority of his rallying career in self built and prepared rally cars, Matt will take the wheel of a latest specification M-Sport run Ford Fiesta R5 Evo this weekend and will be joined by rallying legend John Millington who will guide Edwards through the forests of Kielder.
Starting his career with a Vauxhall Astra, built during late nights from his nan’s garage, Edwards has pursued an opportunity like this for a decade. With national titles to his name and a lead in the MSA British Rally Championship Group N class, Edwards is keen to demonstrate an already recognised talent. “Firstly I must thank Pete Smith of Swift Group, DMack Tyres and M-Sport for this opportunity. We have only done a small test in the car so far and it is beyond my expectations. The car is a purpose built machine from the World Rally Team based at Dovenby, and will be in Ford works colours for the event.” Said Edwards.
Having taken a commanding class victory in the same forests on the recent British Championship round, the DMack Carlisle Stages forms a round of the BTRDA Rally Championship and Edwards is keen to put his knowledge and passion for the stages into good use. “These stages in Kielder are awesome, fast, flowing, technical and demanding. We were setting good times here in April in our more modest Mitsubishi Evo, this Fiesta is lighter and faster than anything I have driven before.”
Setting off at car 7 this weekend, Edwards is also keen to emphasise his aim for the event. “Obviously we want to go as fast as we can, but for us demonstrating consistency and getting a result is the focus for Saturday. Opportunities like this don’t come along often and I intend to savour an entire day of rallying in this Ford Fiesta R5 Evo.”
Edwards will resume his MSA British Rally Championship campaign at the end of the month, when the crews head to the RSAC Scottish Rally.
Championship Lead for Edwards
3rd May 2016
Colwyn Bay’s Matt Edwards dominated his class on the weekends Pirelli Carlisle Rally, taking his Mitsubishi Evolution 9 to a commanding win on the British Rally Championship.
With the event based in Carlisle, round three of the MSA British Rally Championship spent two days at the infamous Kielder Forest complex as changing weather conditions increased the challenge for the Swift Group-backed team. “We get to drive the stages at slow speed before the rally, we’ve seen rain, hail and snow but it should all of cleared before the rally starts on Saturday afternoon.” Explain Edwards as the ME RallySport team made final checks before the ceremonial start at the Pirelli factory.
The opening day featured four fast stages and Edwards was immediately impressive in his Group N specification Mitsubishi, taking a top ten position amongst the faster machinery at the sharp end of the championship. Stage two saw an eleventh fastest time as Edwards and navigator Will Rogers laid down their intention to push hard. Sadly, on stage three one of the infamous sharp rocks on the forest track was to puncture their DMack tyre. “Normally we could run on the puncture and get to the end of the stage. We had to consider the damage from the flailing rubber and the corner that had the puncture also houses the engines’ oil cooler. We had to stop and change it so we dropped over three minutes.” Explained a disappointed Edwards, who dropped outside the top 30.
By the end of the first night the Morris Lubricants supported machine had climbed back into the top 20, with Edwards now changing his game plan for the event. “We came here to look for an overall result, but after the time dropped with a tyre change we will now focus on our class lead and maintain our championship position.” Said Edwards.
Three stages early on Sunday morning saw Edwards climb two places on the first stage before setting a joint fastest time on the second stage. The final stage of the event was completed with Edwards and Rogers climbing four more places to finish the event 15th overall and take their second class win in the Championship. “We are a little disappointed, we believe a top ten finish was on the cards but it wasn’t meant to be.” Said Edwards after his champagne spaying. “We are over the moon to extend out championship lead and we are grateful to everyone that has supported us in the build up too and on the event.”
There is now a short break before the MSA British Rally Championship resumes, with the fourth round taking the crews to Rally Scotland.
Important Points in Ireland for Edwards
April 12th 2016
The second round of the MSA British Rally Championship took class leader Matt Edwards to Belfast, as the British series lined up alongside the best in Europe and Ireland for the iconic Circuit Of Ireland last weekend.
The run up to the event was not plain sailing for the Swift Group backed driver though, an engine problem was found during preparations for the event forcing a full rebuild for the Mitsubishi Evolution 9 as Colwyn Bay's Edwards faced his first international event on the Emerald Isle. “It certainly adds to the pressure; we have every confidence in the car but this engine rebuild has denied us the opportunity to go testing. It’ll be our first time on Irish tarmac in this car and with some new DMack tyres to get used too.”
The event set off from a damp Belfast on Friday morning and despite getting the car ready in time for the event a seized fuel pump was to deny Edwards, partnered by Will Rogers, the opportunity to tackle a competitive stage on the opening day. “It’s disappointing; the car was running fine but just cut out before we got to the first stage. The part will take minutes to replace and we will be allowed to restart tomorrow. As frustrating as it is, there are still championship points on offer and that is our focus.” Explained Edwards.
Day two was to see the Welshman in a buoyant mood, setting times comparable to the more advanced and expensive R5 classification cars featuring in the European Rally Championship, Edwards once again demonstrated his driving prowess with a positive attitude towards the day’s stages. “It is great to be in amongst the quicker cars here, proves the kind of package the Mitsubishi can offer and the quality of the DMack tyres in what are very difficult conditions. As more cars travel over the tarmac roads, the more mud and dirt gets pulled out and they’ve performed well today.” Said Edwards.
Despite not gaining the overall position the team had hoped for, thanks to the regulations allowing them to rejoin on the Saturday stages, the Morris Lubricants backed team took points for second in class and retain their lead in the BRC2 Category of the British Rally Championship. With only three weeks until the third round, Edwards’ preparation firm ME RallySport will return the Mitsubishi to gravel specification for the the Pirelli Carlisle Rally.
(Image courtesy of Colin Service.)
Historic Podium For Edwards
April 4th 2016
Making his debut in an historic specification Opel Kadette GTE, Matt Edwards from Colwyn Bay demonstrated his driving talent by taking an incredible 3rd overall at the weekends Rally North Wales.
The event was split into two sections, with Edwards tackling the historic section and aiming to acclimatise quickly to the new car which had been supplied by long time supported Swift Group. “It will be very different to the Mitsubishi we are campaigning in the British Rally Championship, but its always good to get some seat time and we are looking to help develop some new DMack tyres throughout the day.” Said Edwards, who was joined for this event by regular navigator Will Rogers.
With tricky weather conditions leaving wet mud and standing water, Edwards settled into the Chris Birkbeck prepared Kadette with a time that would put him fifth after the first stage. “We really enjoy these classic Welsh stages, we have fond memories in here and the car feels really good this morning.” Explained Edwards at the service halt, having completed three stages as the rain continued. “The only problem we had was the screen misting up, we then realised I hadn’t turned the heating element on properly.”
The second loop of stages was to be a repeat of the opening three, and with conditions worsening the DMack tyres were really to be put to the test. Holding fourth place the Welshman was keen to bring the car home and a late scare with two stages to go was cause concern for the crew as a misfire hampered progress. This did not hold them back though, as they claimed one more position to leave them with a podium finish and class honours. “It’s a great finish to the day, the car drives really well and we felt at home straight away. We have to thank Pete Smith of Swift Group for letting us use his car, and to DMack for providing some excellent rubber for the conditions.”
Edwards and Rogers head to Belfast this week, as the second round of the British Rally Championship takes in the Circuit of Ireland Rally and will be Edwards’ first International rally, as the event also welcomes Irish and European Championship competitors. Discussing his Mitsubishi Evolution and event plans, Edwards told us “We’ve had a rebuild of the engine, so we’ve been limited with our intended testing, we have some data to work with but not from this car. The aim for the weekend is points, to try and maintain our class lead in the British Championship.”
Image courtesy of RallySport Media.
Class Win for Edwards on Mid Wales Stages
March 8th 2016
The opening round of the MSA British Rally Championship could not have gone better for Colwyn Bay’s Matt Edwards as he took a commanding class victory on the Mid Wales Stages on Sunday.
The rally featured two opening stages in the darkness of Saturday evening and with the recent snow fall conditions were to prove a challenge. “It’s harder in the dark as you rely on the lamp-pod illuminating the way, but when the roads are covered in snow it becomes more of an issue to determine the road from the banks and ditches.” Explained Edwards, who was putting to use his experience of ice driving in Sweden to set a blistering time on the two stages to put himself, and the Swift Group backed Mitsubishi Lancer inside the top seven of the rally and hold a class lead of over a minute. “We caught the car in front on one stage, we didn’t drop too much time following them but we just had such a great feeling in the car, its handling and the DMack Tyres we’re using.”
Sunday morning daybreak saw much of the snow disappear and Edwards, with experienced Will Rogers alongside put in another great set of stage times on the Pikes Peak and Myherin sections which saw them create enough of a gap in class to focus on finishing the event. “We’ve done what we wanted this morning and now we can concentrate on getting the car dialled in, we only completed the build on Friday and the important thing for us now is getting the championship points.” Said Edwards who prepared the car himself at his ME Rallysport firm.
After a lunchtime service halt, the Morris Lubricants supported team headed out to the 15-mile stage of Hafren where once again Edwards would demonstrate immense pace and catch the same car as the night before before the final run over the snow topped hills of Myherin brought the crew back to Newtown for the finish.
“The aim was the class position, but to have come away with 7th overall beating many quicker cars is a great feeling for us and the team with many dubbing us ‘the stars of the rally’ which is a great compliment to what we have achieved.” Said a jubilant Edwards as he crossed the finish line at Coleg Hafren in Newtown, knowing he had been competing against cars in the higher R5 class which are technologically more advanced and worth five time the value.
Next up for the team is a trip across the water, as the MSA British Rally Championship heads to the Circuit of Ireland and a move from gravel to tarmac on April 8th.
Edwards returns to British Rally Championship
February 27th 2016
Multiple national rally champion Matt Edwards returns to the British Rally Championship next weekend as a revitalised series returns for the opening round, the Mid Wales Stages based in Newtown.
The Colwyn Bay-based driver made the successful switch to historic rallying in previous years but will return to the top flight of British rallying in a newly built, Swift Group backed Mitsubishi Evolution 9 built by his own ME Rallysport firm. Edwards has competed in various support series to the British Championship in previous years, but this will be his first attempt at the full championship.
“We have a lot of people to thank to be in this position, not least Swift Group for their continued support. The engine has been put together by C1-R and we have had great deals from Morris Lubricants, Speedline and RA Mouldings.” Explained Edwards.
Joining Edwards for the series will be Will Rogers, the pair having competed on events over the past few years are looking forward to demonstrating their capabilities in this returning championship. “It’s great to see the hype around the new championship, and we are excited to be a part of it. The car will run in the Group N section, for less modified cars so we may not be competing with the likes of World Championship regular Elfyn Evans but we certainly hope to be on the pace in our class.” Said Edwards
Starting with the Mid Wales Stages on March 5th, the event takes in the same stages as featured in the World Rally Championship and having won the event in 2010 Edwards is full of confidence. “We’ll be running on DMack Tyres, who we have worked with for many years now and we know what they are capable of. The car is nearly ready (as Saturday 27th February) so we are hoping to get it finished to have a quick test before the event begins.” Said Holton Homes supported Edwards.
The crew are seeded at car 16 and will lead the Group N field away from Newtown on Saturday afternoon before heading into the forests for two stages in darkness. Sunday morning the pair will tackle four gruelling stages through the day before returning to Newtown for the finish.