Deserving Duo win 2007 rallying scholarship
At the end of a long day of tests and interviews the final round of the 2006 Innovation Rally Scholarship was too close to call and with 12 finalists to choose from the judges came to a unanimous decision-- to award the scholarship to not 1 but 2 deserving young rally drivers, Nick Edwards and Matt Smith.
Scholarship co-ordinator Chris Moore was quick to praise all of the finalists and commented on how close the finals had been in 2006. But after a day out at the Innovation Rallyschool in Tong the potential stars were whittled down to just two contenders. And with contestants from all walks of life, and from as far a field as South Africa, in the case of Gugu Zulu, the calibre of all 12 was remarkable.
With activities including a fitness test at the beginning of the day, through to a variety of driving tests out on the forest stages in 280 bhp Subaru Impreza rally cars, as well as the daunting and intimidating interviews with the panel of judges, which included 2006 JWRC contender Guy Wilks, 2005 Evo Challenge winner Ryan Champion and 2006 Fiesta ST UK Champion Chris Moore, all of the contestants had to face a variety of pressures both from within and from the panel.
The 2006 Scholarship saw 68 registrants tackle the opening round, but such was the high level of standards that these hopefuls were soon whittled down to 28 who returned for round 2. And only 12 would be back for the final shot at the prize.
Nick Edwards (20) I'm gob smacked! This is just a dream come true! I'd like to dedicate this to the late great Richard Burns, who has been my inspiration!
Mathew Smith (21) Incredible. Absolutely incredible! This has been my goal all year long, and to succeed is-- well-- just incredible!
As well as the 2 successful drivers 2 scholarship contestants will also join the team in 2007 as mechanics. Sean Cameron and James Walker were chosen for their mechanical intuitiveness and the pair will join 2005 scholarship winning mechanic Stuart Farrell who will remain with the team into 2007.
Chris Moore, Innovation co-founder, had this to say on the day; Never has choosing a winner been so difficult. All of the finalists showed incredible skills, talent and dedication, but we eventually narrowed it down to 2 people. After taking an extra hour of deliberation we still could not split the pair and so took the unique decision of awarding it to two deserving youngsters!