The Swift Experience
The talented underdog challenging British rallying’s biggest names
Biggest achievement: British Rally Championship 2017 – 3rd place overall
A tale of David vs Goliath
The place, the rugged Isle of Man. The date, September 14th. The event, the Rally Isle of Man – the championship up for grabs. The mood, tense.
24 hours later the final rally of the 2017 British Rally Championship is over, the championship decided.
Driver Matt Edwards, exhausted and elated, climbs from his Ford Fiesta R5 to claim 3rd place overall – a podium finish.
It is a staggering achievement.
Matt, navigator Darren Garrod and the whole Swift Rally Team were competing against much bigger and more established teams.
The Swift Rally Team was competing in its first Prestone MSA British Rally Championship season.
“It was a case of David vs Goliath,” Matt agreed. “We have exceeded all expectations.”
“We’ve done a lot more with less resource than bigger operations.”
The main achievements were…
- Finishing 3rd place overall in 2017 BRC
- Named ‘dark horse’ to win championship by BRC officials
- Claimed 4 podium finishes over the season
- Highlighted as “breakthrough season” by BRC
How the BRC season unfolds
The BRC is made up of 7 rallies across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. There was also an overseas event in Ypres, Belgium.
The overall winner is the driver who racks up the most points overall.
The final standings
- Keith Cronin 129pts
- Fredrik Ahlin 128pts
There’s no I in team
Matt says he couldn’t have done it without the wider Swift Rally Team.
“Everyone on the team is on-board,” he explained. “We’ve developed things race by race and stayed competitive throughout: particularly in the second half of the season.
“Everyone is looking at how to do their job that bit better.”
We asked Matt what he wants to achieve in the 2018 season and there was no deliberation.
“To win a rally,” he answered in a heartbeat.
For the last few years, Swift Group has sponsored Matt Edwards, one of the UK’s a leading rally drivers. Matt’s love of rallying started at an early age, born in 1984, he was brought up in North Wales where he continues to live. Matt’s dad was a well-known local rally co driver and of course the family would go along to support him.
Matt’s dad eventually became the clerk of the course for the local Cambrian Rally, the rally in which Matt would first compete in 2004. Without his dad’s knowledge Matt invested his student grant in an Astra MkII and converted it into rally specification. Matt finished but the car suffered a number of problems and eventually placed 92nd, the bug though had bitten!
Keen to develop as a rally driver, Matt entered a few local rallying before deciding to compete in the BTRDA Championship in 2007 with his beloved Astra. To his surprise Matt won the B8 class within the 1400 series and placed second in the overall 1400 series that included many 16 valve cars.
The 2007 success proved a launch pad for Matt and he continued to collect accolades over the coming years. Those early years where especially tough with many rally nights spend under canvas (or in the car), eating frugally, and even doubling up as his own mechanic during rallies when friends or family could not help out.
Matt came to the attention of Swift Group in 2010, when he was in the same Rally as current Swift Group Chairman Peter Smith. Although not competing in the same class, the blistering pace that Matt set in his MG ZR made him the talk of the rally as he took 1st and 2nd place in the first two rounds.
A mechanical breakdown and insufficient funds stopped Matt in his tracks. Unable to repair the car Matt started approached potential sponsors and soon came to the attention of Peter Smith. Peter knew Matt’s co-driver, approached the pair and offered to provide some of the funds if Matt could secure the rest. The funds were eventually secured and so out of adversity a new and rewarding relationship started.
In 2015, whilst co-driving, Matt suffered his biggest crash to date when the car careered off the road and smashed into a tree during the British Trial & Rally Drivers Association (BTRDA)’s Malcolm Wilson Rally: a 45-mile course on classic Lakes Stages. Airlifted to hospital, Matt made a full recovery and after a few months was back in the driver’s seat.
Since 2011 Matt has continued to set the pace and in 2013, he won the RAC Rally championship Series 3 beating legend and at that time reigning Welsh National Rally champion Steve Bannister in the Trackrod Rally.
Like most professional competitors in any sport, Matt’s ultimate aim is to be able to test himself against the best and discover just how far he can develop as a driver. A British Championship title is one dream that he hopes will one day become a reality.
David Hurst and his wife, Debs, their two young boys, Daniel (6) and Darley (4), and the family pet, Mr Colin dog, are currently exploring the world in their Swift Escape 696 motorhome.
In 2014 The Swift Group teamed up with extreme sportsman Neil Greentree, owner and boss of UK windsurf Race and Demo team Team QSW. Neil has always been very outdoor minded and his passion for exploration and adventure continues to this day.