Matt Edwards

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Edwards clinches dream maiden BRC win

Matt Edwards and co-driver Darren Garrod won their first ever Prestone MSA British Rally Championship round at the recent Pirelli International Rally (Saturday 28 April). Driving the latest Ford Fiesta R5 for Cumbrian firm M-Sport, the pair from Wales netted their dream result by 20.5 seconds to launch their championship campaign.

The Welsh duo didn’t have it all their own way as young gun Rhys Yates and navigator Elliott Edmondson in a Skoda Fabia R5 stormed to their best BRC result with second. Reigning champions Keith Cronin and Mikie Galvin made it a three-way fight for victory in a new Hyundai i20 R5 with the Irish crew eventually finishing third – making it three different marques of cars on the first podium of the year.

The opening round of the eagerly anticipated 60th anniversary year got underway with 80 fast and furious gravel miles through the legendary Kielder Forest. Starting from the Pirelli factory in Carlisle, the BRC crews were cheered into the eight-stage event by the Mayor of Carlisle, Trish Vasey, local MP John Stevenson and thousands of spectators.

The English round of the series always provides drama aplenty and this instalment was no different as the first stage claimed its first victims – David Bogie and John Rowan. Driving for Carlisle-based firm CA1 Sport, Bogie rolled his DMACK-supported Skoda Fabia R5 out of contention. Thankfully both crew members were left unscathed but this paved a way for their rallying rivals.

Reigning champions Keith Cronin and Mikie Galvin put their new Hyundai i20 R5 through its paces on the Cumbrian gravel. Cronin began his quest for a fifth title – to match series history maker Jimmy McRae – in fine fashion. The Michelin-supported star initially held the lead before an on-form Edwards mounted his charge.  Suffering with a lack of competitive miles in the new car, Cronin struggled with pace in the afternoon loop and went too tight to a chicane bale and had to reverse to get going again – haemorrhaging time to the top two.

Matt Edwards and Darren Garrod lost out on their first BRC win by one tenth of a second last season, and the Welsh pair were out to set the record straight in 2018. Reeling in Cronin throughout the morning, Edwards fired into the lead and never looked back, punching in five out of eight fastest times in the Swift Group Fiesta to clinch an emotional first win in Britain’s premier rallying series. Edwards’ win also provided Pirelli a much coveted home win in the process

After a strong run on the European championship round in the Azores, Rhys Yates continued his excellent form in his brand new Skoda Fabia R5. Showing speed and consistency throughout the day, the Derbyshire-based driver hunted down Cronin in the closing stages, overhauling the Irishman with a fastest time on stage eight to clinch second by just 1.3 seconds – and in the process his BRC result to date.

Fellow Skoda Fabia R5 driver Marty McCormack and co-driver David Moynihan came out of the blocks on the opening stage to sit second but soon after discovered gearbox gremlins. With no spare, and limited time to rectify any problems the Irishman adopted a mechanically sympathetic approach to bring his Kumho-shod Skoda Fabia R5 into a well earned fourth.

Rounding out the top five was Jonny Greer, contesting his tenth Pirelli Rally – this time in his recently-acquired Ford Fiesta R5. The Pirelli-supported driver with Kirsty Riddick calling the notes gathered momentum with every stage mile to secure fifth at the end of their first loose surface event in the car – a solid start to their championship campaign.

Hard Fought Sixth for Edwards on BRC Opener

The Swift Rally Team of Matt Edwards and new Co-Driver Darren Garrod  secured a promising 6th Overall on the opening round of the British Rally Championship over the weekend, surviving arduous conditions and troubles with the handling of their Fiesta R5 to take some valuable championship points.


 
The Swift Rally Team of Matt Edwards and new Co-Driver Darren Garrod secured a promising 6th Overall on the opening round of the British Rally Championship over the weekend, surviving arduous conditions and troubles with the handling of their Fiesta R5 to take some valuable championship points.
 
With little pre-event testing under their belts, the first Friday night stages were to provide Edwards and Garrod with their first taste of competition as a partnership and on gravel surface in the loose and slippery Craik Forest. The Swift Group, Holton Homes, and Morris lubricants supported car was to set identical times on both runs of the 6 mile test to lie a promising 5th overall against tough competition; however some issues with the light adjustment and a general nervous feeling in the car were to cost the pair some valuable time.
 
Onto a damp start to Saturday morning in the Wauchope and Hyndlee tests, the time loss was evident still further as the crew, who are also supported by Corvus Security Lts, Speedline Corse, and Hankook Tyres, struggled to keep their machines momentum up through the narrow and winding forest stages as Edwards explains;
 
“We are finding the going fairly tough it has to be said. We had a fairly good run last night which is standing us in good stead today, as we are still not finding the times we would like despite a fairly neat run through the stages. The car is quite difficult to keep on line but of course my inexperience in the car could be a factor, however we are hopeful we can get to the bottom of it with the help of the team at service and start to make some progress; at least we are still here and the position is quite encouraging considering!”
 
A further two tests in the Spectacular Tweed Valley offered no let up for the competitors from the tricky conditions, and despite a better run through the first half of the fifth stage, a slippery section caught out the Welsh pair resulting in a minor off road excursion. With the help of spectators, the Swift Group machine quickly regained the road and completed the stage but with the loss of a minute to their rivals and with a further 15 seconds conceded in the following test to ensure the car could be checked at service, it was proving to be a challenging day in more ways than one.
 
After a clean bill of health and a radical change to the car, the Welsh crew set out to claw back some lost time and rebuild some confidence. This they managed in some style, gaining two places in the following two repeated stages, including a 4th fastest overall time in the Elibank stage, and a further place was gained in the final Yair test to net them a rewarding 6th overall for their efforts.
 
“Yes we are very pleased with the end result, in fact its one we would certainly have accepted at the start of the event. We have had some issues over the course of the event and are very grateful to everyone in service and with their help and experience and the benefit of Hankook tyres onboard we have been able to work through it to a pleasing conclusion”, explained a relieved Edwards at the finish in Jedburgh
 
The Championship continues to the Pirelli Rally in April where The Swift Team will work to consolidate their promising start to the season.
 
More information on the Swift Group can be found at www.swiftgroup.co.uk
 
Swift Group is the UK’s premier manufacturer of caravans, motorhomes and holiday homes. Established over 50 years ago, the company is based in Cottingham, East Yorkshire with manufacturing facilities in Cottingham and Mexborough, near Doncaster.

Matt with new co-driver Darren Garrod

First mileage...

Great day today at Walters Arena. First mileage with the car on gravel evaluating our Hankook Tyres for the season

Felt comfortable straight away despite not having sat in the car in 6 months, and that was due in no small part to the help of Darren Garrod who im pleased to say will be Co driving for me this year.

All in all a very positive day in difficult and changeable conditions.

Thanks to M.B.M - Mad Bob Media AndyTownend DanielJeffs Andy Cator and Peter Smith.

Cant wait to get started in #msabrc in 2 weeks time

Ride onboard with Matt Edwards and the Swift Rally Team

Ride onboard our first timed run of our first gravel test in the Swift Rally Team Fiesta R5 during our Hankook Tyres test last week!

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