Belfast Telegraph

Wilson ready to show his power on home ground after making the switch to R5 car

 

James Wilson
James Wilson

By Sammy Hamill

James Wilson was named Ireland's Young Rally Driver of the Year in 2018 and with the prestigious Billy Coleman Award came a funding boost aimed at helping him progress his career.

The plan was to challenge for the British Junior Championship, as well as take up other opportunities, but after a strong start with victory in the first BRC round in Wales in his little R2 Peugeot, the campaign has petered out with non-finishes on the last two events and the title is out of reach.

Which is why the 23-year-old Armagh engineer will line up for the start of the Today's Ulster Rally on Saturday morning in an R5 Hyundai i20, a sister car to the one which will be driven by Craig Breen at the head of the 100-strong entry list.

With the support of Motorsport Ireland's newly formed Academy scheme, Wilson has gradually been introduced into the Hyundai set-up, first on the Rally of the Lakes in Killarney and most recently in the Cork Forest Rally.

He has acquitted himself admirably, finishing in the top-10 in the Killarney international and then taking third in Cork.

But this weekend he takes on a combined Irish Tarmac and British Championship field which includes not just Breen but Matt Edwards, the reigning British champion who won in Ulster last year.

Having recently visited the Hyundai motorsport base at Alzenau in Germany, Wilson and co-driver Arthur Kierans will be on board a freshly built R5 i20 from Philip Case's PCRS stable in Donegal when they line up at No.15 in Newry.

Wilson, who is the third generation of a rally family, doesn't know what to expect from the weekend but says he just loves driving the Hyundai.

"I've always felt in control of the car right from the first test day," he said.

"Despite the big difference in speed to the R2 car, it feels very stable and was nice to work with. I can't be anything else but excited about Saturday."

With Wilson out of the R2 picture, the fight for the BRC Junior title is coming down to a straight fight between two of his fellow Ulster drivers.

Josh McErlean leads by eight points from William Creighton but that could quickly change this week as both drivers still have their bonus points joker cars to play.

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