Malcolm Wilson’s words were not lost on the 45 drivers standing before him before the start of M-Sport Return to Rally Stages. He was right. It was a day to be enjoyed, a day to be celebrated. It wasn’t a day to be climbing out of broken rally cars.
Once the applause for Wilson’s addition to the driver briefing had died down, the 1994 British Rally Champion slid behind the wheel of his Group 4 Ford Escort and set out to enjoy and celebrate the day rallying returned, driving the stages as the zero car.
A few hours later he arrived back in service, minus the gorgeous Mk2. A slightly bashful-looking Wilson explained the absence of his motor.
“I ran a little bit wide coming out of a corner,” he told DirtFish.
“I got a wheel on the grass. I wasn’t worried about that, it didn’t bother me and I just kept accelerating and going up through the gears. I think we were into fourth when we hit this hole in the grass.
“It was nothing really, just a small thing that you might have dug to drain some water away. But going into that ripped the wheel out of my hand. Once that happened, I knew that was it.
“That turned the car off the road and we went straight in to the tree stumps – that was where we did the damage. We hit one of those and the car rolled a couple of times.
“I was able to drive the car out, but the shell is, to be honest, looking a bit sore.”
Wilson exit from the event came on the fourth of six stages. For three and a half stages, he’d been transported back to his pomp. Back to the time when he was just setting out to take on a world he would subsequently conquer with his own team.
“It did take me back,” he said, “The noise is something special. It’s like music. But I have to be honest, it’s harder work than I remember!”