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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Matthew Wilson puts safety at heart of dangerous sport

With motorsport still mourning the deaths of IndyCar champion Dan Wheldon and MotoGP star Marco Simoncelli, Cockermouth rally ace Matthew Wilson admitted he’s more than aware of the dangers he’s exposed to every time he belts up.

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TRIBUTE: Matthew Wilson with a commemorative sticker on the roof of his Ford Focus RS WRC to celebrate the life of MotoGP rider Marco Simoncelli whose race number was 58

The 24-year-old son of Ford World Rally team boss Malcolm Wilson expressed his sadness at the loss of two great personalities.

Indy 500 winner Wheldon, 33, suffered “unsurvivable” injuries, when he crashed during a race on October 15.

Flamboyant Italian Simoncelli, 24, died a week later while competing in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Simoncelli recently visited M-Sport’s Dovenby base, and a special tribute to the biker’s has been printed on Wilson’s Ford Fiesta during Wales Rally GB, which started yesterday.

Wilson said: “Motorsport is dangerous. We all understand the dangers before we get in the car. Safety is top of everyone’s list of priorities, cars are built around safety ideas and it’s brilliant that is so important.

“What happened with Dan and Marco was terrible.

“It was an awful week and I’ve never known a week like that for motorsport in my time.

“Even though they are different disciplines, it is a small community.

“But you have to understand the reasons for the accidents. Dan was in Indy cars and the track was too small for the number of cars at that speed.

“They know the safety in Indy cars wasn’t as high as it should be.

“Dealing with Marco’s death was more difficult because we were competing at the time and hearing that kind of news was awful.

“He was a big character and full of life. Bikes are a very different story as there isn’t the same protection you have in a car.”

Ford and M-Sport can still win the world title with Mikko Hirvonen just eight points behind leader Sebastien Loeb.

Wilson lies eighth but could jump to sixth with a top result.

He said: “Finishing sixth in the drivers’ championship would be great as the top four places are filled by the works’ drivers so you have to strive to be the best of the rest.

“Rally GB is my home event and it’s always a fantastic rally to mark the end of the season.

“The fans are incredibly supportive and it’s a rally where I want to finish with a good result more than ever.”

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