Malcolm Wilson is a man who’s won pretty much everything rallying has on offer. As a driver he won his home title and competed against the world’s best through the infamous Group B era. Running his own team, he’s beaten the rest of the world. Plenty of times.
Last week, with points and a solid start from the Monte Carlo Rally done, Wilson headed south. South to Bathurst.
Several time zones ahead, MW pulled on a different M-Sport-branded shirt and sat next to Bentley Team M-Sport team manager – his son – Matthew to enjoy one of the biggest moments of his career.
The #7 Bentley Continental GT3 crewed by Jules Gounon, Maxime Soulet and Jordan Pepper lapped Mount Panorama 314 times and, after 12 hours of racing, came home 42s ahead in the Bathurst 12 Hour GT race.
Wilson talked DirtFish through what it meant to him.
DF: How big was this win?
Malcolm Wilson: Huge. It was a massive win for us. Going into that race, there were two big boxes for me to tick in terms of winning – one was the Bathurst race and the other is Spa [24 Hours]. It’s a very, very nice feeling to have one of those boxes ticked.
DF: What makes Bathurst such a big deal?
MW: It’s because, in my eyes, Bathurst and Spa are two of the most difficult races to win in the world. If you look at a race like Le Mans, yes it’s a difficult race, of course it is, but there are maybe five or six cars that could win there. Go to Spa and you’ve 35 or 40 cars that could win on a 70-car grid.
In Bathurst, I’d say there were 25 cars that could have won and we did it.
DF: It wasn’t the most straightforward run into the race though…
MW: Definitely not. And, to be honest, that’s what made this win even more special. The build-up was so difficult.
The guys had to change an engine in one car, then there was three or four hours work on another car and in qualifying we had a brake failure on the #8 car which ended in a big accident.
The guys were just working flat out all the time – and all in temperatures in the high 30s. They did an incredible job, the whole team did an incredible job.
DF: Including Matthew!
MW: Absolutely. Matthew led the team so well, implemented the strategy and really made this one work. I’m very proud if him.
DF: But even in the end there was a late drama…
MW: There was, the lead car got a puncture – but he got the puncture on the Conrod Straight, close to the pit entrance. We were able to bring the car in, change the tires and get straight back out.
DF: How does this compare to working on a rally?
MW: It is different. It’s a pretty intense 12 hours. I was just sitting on the pit wall for the whole thing, just watching. Matthew was running things, but every now and then he’d come and run things past me.
It was a great race and a huge achievement for this team after what we went through in the build-up!
DF: And now Sweden, your third major event in four weekends. Looking forward to it?
MW: Of course! The conditions are going to be a challenge, but let’s see what we can do.