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A 'Swift' return to rally action for Jackson

Saturday 1st September saw the return to competition of Matthew Jackson on the Woodpecker Stages Rally. Having taken some time out of the sport to undertake a part time master’s degree, Matthew was provided with what can only be described as an opportunity of a lifetime to get behind the wheel of an M-Sport developed Ford Fiesta R2 courtesy of Swift Group and Greenlight Sports & Entertainment.

45 of some of the best welsh forestry stages miles lay in store for Matthew and Ammanford’s Claire Williams as they headed out in the midst of a very strong and extremely competitive field. With it being the first time in such machinery for the pairing, there were no expectations in terms of a result with the event being used to make the most of the opportunity and learn as much as possible.

Speaking ahead of the mornings stages, Matthew commented:

‘We are very much looking forward to the day. The class is very strong for this event with some very experienced and quick competitors in the same car as us so that will be a really good benchmark. The plan for the day is to learn as much as we can and improve our pace as the day goes on. I completed a small shakedown before the event thanks to Forest Experience and Matt Edwards so we have a small understanding of the car, if this can be increased throughout the day, the target will be achieved’.

The first 3 stages including the incredibly fast Radnor test were a success with the Pirelli tyre shod Fiesta crew returning to first service with a very credible 4th in class, beating many more of the experienced crews.

‘We are driving our own rally. We have settled into the car now we have some miles under our belt but we are very happy with our initial pace. The pace is good but we also know where we can improve as I learn more about the car which is extremely positive. We had our own goals for the morning and it’s safe to say, we have exceeded them!’

The 4th stage of the event would see a small amount of time loss with some loose stones getting stuck between the rear wheel and the brake caliper for the last quarter of the stage. Undeterred by this and with only minimal time loss, the pairing continued back to the second service of the day, still holding 4th position in class. A promising run through stage 5 saw the pairing back to full confidence and another improvement in pace. Unfortunately the penultimate stage of the event would see the crew forced to the sidelines with an unfortunate mechanical failure.

‘I am absolutely devastated with how today has ended. We were far exceeding our own and, in fact, others expectations with the performance throughout the morning. We can take a lot of positives from this event. We have proven we have a solid foundation to build on in such a car with our times improving as the day went on. I also know where I need to work to improve the times even further which is the most important part. I cannot thank Swift Group and Greenlight Sports & Entertainment for making this happen, I just hope in the future we can get more seat time in the car and get that all important result!’.

Matthew’s attention now turns to Wales Rally GB where he will be fulfilling an official duty and piloting the zero car for the National rally. Work will now begin behind the scenes in an attempt to secure a full programme for 2019, ideally after the performance of the Woodpecker in an R2 specification car. Any parties who might be able to help make the progression should contact Matthew at:

Matthew & Claire would like to express their sincere thanks and appreciation to:

Swift Group & Peter Smith,

Pirelli Tyres

Image: Carl Leavold

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