James Wilson made a perfect start to the Irish Forestry Rally Championship by taking his maiden overall victory on Sunday’s Carrick Forestry Rally. Wilson led the rally from start to finish, setting fastest times on each of the five stages to win by 41.8 seconds in his Hyundai i20 R5.
“It hasn’t sunk in just yet,” admitted Wilson. “I’m delighted to get an overall win for the [Motorsport Ireland] Academy. A lot of work and effort has been put in by so many people, so I’m delighted to repay everyone with a win.”
The 2018 Billy Coleman Award winner has set his sights on the Forestry crown this year and collecting his first overall win so soon in the season will certainly fuel his title ambitions. It’s further evidence of how well Wilson has settled into the i20 R5 on gravel, he finished third and fourth overall in his two previous gravel starts in an R5.
The first round of the Forestry Championship was Wilson’s first event in his newly acquired R5, which is still prepared by PCRS.
“I was fairly cautious on the first loop. It was very slippery from the start, but the car worked perfectly. I was also running a new compound of Michelin tyre which worked perfectly too.”
The Armagh driver has taken a fresh approach to his preparation ahead of his year rallying with the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy. He believes this was key to making such a strong start to the season.
“From the start of the new year I have kicked my training up a gear and focused very hard on nutrition. Thanks to the Academy this was made easy with the advice and encouragement given to me. The development days are great for pushing yourself to the next level.”
There is no time to rest for Wilson and co-driver Arthur Kierans with the next round of the championship less than two weeks away. The team will travel to Limerick for the second round of the Forestry Championship on 8 March.
“I want to take the chance to thank all my sponsors, my family, the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy and everyone involved with the academy. The PCRS team ran a faultless car, Michelin gave me a great tyre package and as always Arthur was flawless on the notes.”