The motorsports family is closely knit. Working in racing connects people. But some people are also family outside the circuit.
At the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup finale at the Nürburgring this weekend we met Malcolm (61) and Matthew Wilson (30), Managing Director of M-Sport and Bentley Team M-Sport Team Manager respectively.
The M-Sport Bentley team is part of the Blancpain GT Series since 2014, as are Malcolm and Matthew’s wives Elaine (55) and Katie-Ann (36) who are helping with the drivers and the hospitality.
Malcolm Wilson has more than 40 years' experience at rallying's highest level. As a driver he won two British national titles in the late 1970s and achieved a long-held ambition by winning the British international crown in 1994. M-Sport is based at Dovenby Hall in the English Lake District.
How is it to work with your father as a Managing Director, being the team manger yourself and the other way around? Does it make a difference that you are family and who is the real boss?
Malcolm: “There is only one boss in the house and that is Elaine. Elaine controls the family, I control the business.” (grins)
Matthew: “For me this is the only thing I’ve ever known. I grew up like this. Even when I was driving it was the same, it was always family and employer at the same time.”
Malcolm: “It’s good as it is. Matthew controls the racing side and I control the rally side of the business.”
You and your dad shared a car in rallying and you were quite successful yourself, what made you venture into GT racing?
Malcolm: “Our business was a 100 % based on rallying. I never really wanted to be involved in anything else. But then the opportunity came along from Bentley to do GT racing. I got a phone call from Brian Gush, Bentley Director of Motorsport, and I was very honest back then, telling him that we have no racing experience at all. But he insisted. He thought that there are a lot of similarities between the rally and endurance racing. And within two weeks we had an agreement with Bentley to design, develop and build a GT3 car. And he was right.”
How much does the rally experience help you in your current roles?
Matthew: “Actually a lot. The more you get into it, the more similarities you find, particularly in endurance racing.”
Malcolm: “Endurance racing is very similar to how the old rallies used to be. In many ways, there are a lot of similarities, especially when it comes to team work.”
You’re racing in the Blancpain GT Series since 2014, tell us your most memorable moments and why did you choose the Blancpain GT Series?
Matthew: “When Bentley decided to do customer racing, the Blancpain GT Series was the best place to be. It’s the most successful GT Series, it’s got a really good customer base. The idea was to show the car there. And the highlight of course was our first win in Silverstone, that was quite special and then to follow that up with the victory in Paul Ricard. Two in a row in our first season, that was memorable.”
Malcolm: “And then of course we thought, hey, this is easy… and then the reality hits you. The level of the Blancpain GT Series kept getting stronger and stronger and stronger. And we actually went for quite a while without a win. We always had a good chance in the championship, but we did not have a win until this year at the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup in Paul Ricard. That was also very special.”
What are your plans for the future?
Malcolm: “Rally is obviously the biggest part of our business, it accounts for 80% of our activities, because of the scale and the volume of the cars. But we will of course continue what we do. We just made a big investment in our workshop, we have a lot more capacity going forward and a new test track at the factory. We’re not standing still. We’re moving forward, also in GT racing.”
Matthew: “Our biggest challenge for the next year is the Total 24 Hours of Spa. We’ve been so close, so everyone in the team is desperate to win Spa. This is a box we want to tick, we will not settle until this has been done.”