Matt Edwards has dominated the British scene for the past three campaigns but admits now may be the time to try something different, with the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship currently top of his list.
Edwards won last November’s Ulster Rally to be crowned British champion for an unprecedented third successive time, beating many of Ireland’s fastest and most competent asphalt drivers in the process.
Having harboured ambitions for some time now about committing to a full season this side of the Irish Sea, the 37-year-old is working diligently in the background to try and put a watertight deal together.
Of the £170,000 budget needed to start all seven rounds in a Volkswagen Polo R5 – the same car that carried him to success in 2021 – he has currently raised £10,000 while trying to hold down a day job.
“I am having to start again from scratch,” said Edwards, who insists he is prepared to work up to the eleventh hour before the opening round in Galway in early February to make a full assault possible.
“I am as ready now as I think I ever will be to try something different”Matt Edwards
“Because I’m going to compete in a different market, my current sponsors may not get the kind of return on investment they would like, which I completely understand, so I’m opening up the search.
“At the minute, it’s proving a challenge but I believe if you stop it’s hard to generate momentum, not from a personal desire to do it but from a logistical and financial point of view. If you stop it’s harder.”
Should Edwards succeed in securing the support he requires from businesses both north and south of the border, he feels he stands as good a chance as anyone of clinching the Irish Tarmac drivers’ title.
“I am as ready now as I think I ever will be to go and try something different – if I can make it happen,” he said.
“The three British Rally Championship title in-a-row, to do that, is quite iconic whereas I feel if I was to go and win a fourth, special as it would be, it just wouldn’t carry as much weight as the third.
“I have probably been up against the people of note over the last five or six years in the British Rally Championship – David Bogie, Tom Cave, Osian Pryce and the Irish contingent like Keith Cronin and Craig Breen.
“I have given them all a good run for their money – but I have always liked the Tarmac Championship. It has great events and stages. I have watched it for years and would love to be a part of it.
“I definitely wouldn’t be going to all this effort just to come inside the top ten on rounds of the Tarmac Championship. I want to be competitive, like I was at the Ulster Rally back in 2019 and again last year.
“I love the competition, the fun factor and the camaraderie that exists between all the Irish guys who I have always got on well with. It would be a nice place to spend a season driving, that’s for sure.”