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Monday, 22 December 2014

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Cumbrian Matthew Wilson's comeback on hold after freak accident

Matthew Wilson’s hopes of returning to action at this week’s Portuguese Rally have hit the skids as he has not recovered from injuries he suffered in a training accident.

Matthew Wilson photo
Matthew Wilson

Wilson had hoped to be back behind the wheel in the World Rally Championship, less than five weeks after breaking his left leg when he slipped on ice while out fell running.

It happened when he was running down Latrigg while training to get himself in peak condition for February’s Swedish Rally.

He also suffered a dislocated ankle and damaged ligaments and had to be helped on the final mile back to the car by girlfriend Katie-Anne Gate, who accompanied him on the run, and a passing stranger.

She then drove him to the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven, where X-rays revealed the extent of his injuries.

Wilson underwent two operations to insert plates and screws into his leg, and has been forced to miss two rounds of the championship.

The 24-year-old Cockermouth driver had hoped to return for this week’s gravel test in Portugal but has had to put his comeback on hold.

He could return in next month’s Argentinean Rally – the longest and most arduous event in the WRC Calendar.

He flew out to Portugal on Monday with his father, Ford team boss Malcolm Wilson, and plans to do some warm-weather fitness training.

Ford drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg say they are all set for the fourth round following a successful test in Portugal last week.

The pair completed more than 300 kilometres of testing in a Fiesta RS WRC, built and prepared at Wilson’s M-Sport rally operation at Dovenby Hall, near Cockermouth.

Latvala said: “We prepared for the night stages by driving in the dark at our test this week. I drove 48 kilometres on Wednesday and that really helped for what could be a crucial part of the rally.”

Solberg, currently third in the WRC drivers’ standings, made improvements to his car set-up, but said he will be taking a measured approach on tomorrow’s opening stages.

“I drove for 220 kilometres and made a few more improvements to the set-up of my car,” said the 37-year-old Norwegian.

“I know from the last round that the Fiesta RS WRC is fast on gravel, so hopefully these improvements will make it even better.

“It’s a long rally and I want to be a little calmer at the beginning than I was in Mexico.

“I made a couple of early mistakes there and I don’t want to repeat that, so it’s important I don’t try to achieve too much too soon.”

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