Against all odds
Malcolm the Conqueror
It’s never easy to succeed in any class of motorsport, particularly when as a privateer you’re up against the ‘big boys’, manufacturers with seemingly bottomless pockets who will throw virtually all they’ve got to get the win. But one man who’s been on both sides of that divide has done just that. Achieved the unthinkable.
That man is Malcolm Wilson. His team is M (Malcolm)-Sport and the name of the game is WRC (World Rally Championship).
Rally fans are well aware of Malcolm and his illustrious career, both behind the wheel and more latterly managing through his team some of the most famous names in rallying such as the late, great Colin McCrae and most recently, four times WRC champion, Frenchman Sebastien Ogier.
It’s a career that spans over 40 years and has accumulated a fair amount of silverware in the trophy cabinet at M-Sport’s headquarters at Dovenby Hall in Cockermouth, Cumbria. It’s also a career that, apart from a few forays with other manufacturers, has predominantly featured the name of Ford, starting with the Mk2 Ford Escort which were the wheels of choice for many champions back in the day, including himself.
As manufacturers and championships came and went, Malcolm persisted with his relationship with the big blue oval. As the glory days of the mighty Escort became a very distant memory you’d think there might have been a wobble. But no he and Ford persisted and almost twenty years later that dogged persistence paid off. In 2006 they won their first manufacturers title with the Ford Focus RS. Then lo and behold, they repeated the feat in 2007. But despite their best efforts the drivers title in both years lay beyond their grasp due to the legend that became the most winning WRC driver of all time. Sébastien Loeb.
Unfortunately Loeb was on a run that was to last until 2012 taking championship after championship. And maybe it was that seemingly unbeatable force that decided the board at Ford to announce in 2012 that it would be the last season for the Ford World Rally Team.
Lesser men might have given up at that stage. Not Malcolm. Despite Ford’s official retreat from WRC, Malcolm’s special relationship with them enabled M-Sport to continue working with the support of the manufacturer. But the team was now living on its own wits and became a manufacturer in its own right as it took the Fiesta platform and slowly but surely engineered it into a winner. A fact that hadn’t escaped the notice of another multiple WRC winner called Sebastien Ogier.
With a new car on the blocks and a growing sense of confidence in their ability to produce a winner, Malcolm enticed Ogier to join M-Sport. The fairy tale had begun.
The 2017 season is now history and indeed a historic season for M-Sport. With the field snapping at their heels they not only maintained their cool but their team of drivers who included Ott Tanak and local boy Elfyn Evans went from strength to strength culminating in victory on their home ground in the forests and mountains of Wales. A victory that not only gave Elfyn Evans his first WRC win, but also sealed the drivers championship for Ogier and perhaps most significantly of all, the constructors championship, the first ever for a non manufacturers team. A fairy tale ending indeed.
Published on 31st October 2017