Land Rover Surprises The Competition In Granite City Rally

A Land Rover Freelander finished strongly in last weekend’s Granite City Rally after being selected by one of the hottest new prospects on the rally driving scene as his vehicle of choice.

Matthew Wilson (17), son of motorsport great Malcolm Wilson, piloted a special rally-prepared M-Sport Land Rover Freelander during the event and surprised seasoned veterans by finishing his class in 21st position after completing 44 miles of fearsome forest stages south of Aberdeen.

Matthew’s performance was all the more memorable because it was just his third competitive rally and its successful completion now makes him eligible for his professional licence.

Commenting on the event Matthew said: "The Granite City Rally was my toughest test yet but a fantastic opportunity to gain more experience and learn from the professionals that compete in it as part of the Scottish Rally Championship. It’s an event that demands respect from even the most experienced driver."

The event’s casualty rate was high, with 10 per cent of the vehicles failing to finish, but the M-Sport Freelander surprised many competitors by proving that it had both the power and durability to meet the demands of competition.

Matthew added: "This was the first rally that the Freelander has competed in and many of the other drivers were keen to see how well it performed. From extensive testing I knew that its handling and reliability wouldn’t be a problem, which meant I could concentrate more on my own performance. On the day, it finished the rally as it started – only fuel was added."

The M-Sport Freelander is based upon a standard V6 model – which is powered by a 2.5-litre petrol engine – but also incorporates a full roll-cage for safety and an uprated suspension system and brake-pads to deliver improved handling in the heat of competition – making it the most capable Freelander in the world.

Aberdeen’s Granite City Rally – now in its 35th year – has grown from a small, local navigational challenge into a fully-fledged, and internationally recognised, forest rally. Saturday’s (17 April) event attracted over 70 entries, including many leading drivers drawn by the event’s challenging course and welcoming atmosphere.

Published 21 April 2004 Melanie Carter

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