e: enquiries @ wdmc.org.uk
Whickham and District Motor Club Limited

How I got started in rallying-stage by stage.

SS1 Have an interest…

From an early age I've had a huge passion for cars and speed….I'll never forget my first car!

Matthew First Car

A few years on from then as most boys do, I spent a lot of my time watching motorsport with my dad as well as playing every version of racing game that I could get my hands on. My favourite was of course Colin McRae Dirt, which I played obsessively…… even had a plastic steering wheel for added realism!

Jumping on a few years now to when I was 17 and driving. I put some money together and bought my dad a Knockhill rally experience for his birthday. This is where things started to literally accelerate... In return my dad bought the same experience for me, the idea being it would be some good old father /son competition…..Or in my Dad's eyes show who's boss!

To both our surprise, this backfired slightly when I ended up beating him, winning the "driver of the day" award. Still don't know to this day what he was more full of, pride or annoyance. None the less, the fire was well and truly lit - this is what really pushed me to win my Dad over and persuade him to help me get started in rallying.

SS2 Get involved in a car club…

I soon learnt that before you even start building or buying a car it's important to first home in on what championships, events and classes are out there and what you want to focus on. I found the best place to gain the information and contacts you'll need to get started are at your local car club.

It was at our local club (Coltness Car Club) that we really started to find our footing in the world of rallying. It is also where we learnt all the important things that you want to know when starting. Where to look for a car, what championship to do, who to speak about navigating for me. The list quite literally goes on and on. As well as gaining information through the people at the club, we were also able to get in contact with the right people and get the appropriate advice.

SS3 Building a team…

It was through my club where I was able to find my car and build my team. I was put into contact with Chris Paton who was selling a beautifully prepared 1.6v Vauxhall Nova. Getting on really well with him and after buying the car from him he agreed to come and lend a hand in the first three events. It was also through Chris and his connections that we were able to build the rest of the team. Ryan Dunbar (mechanic), Ross Pringle (mechanic) and Ronnie Roughead (navigator). The main focus when building the team was to find an experienced navigator. The type of person that would be able to teach me the ropes, as well as keeping me on the right track. Ronnie proved invaluable and would do so by motivating me with his notorious "sharpened pencil" technique! It definitely kept me focused and I didn't need to be told twice!

So that was our team for the first year.

Matthew Team 1st year

SS4 Get experience…

It might sound obvious, but seat time is really the only sure fire way you will improve as a driver. Naturally as a competitive person you want, like I did, to go out all guns blazing in your first event. This tactic is fine if you don't mind writing off your car and staying at the same level. However I began to understand that if you really want to become a really competitive driver and put the older guys to shame, then "LISTEN UP". You"re going to have to build from the ground up if you want to improve. There's no point buying the fastest car that you can afford, that's a fools game. If you're serious about improving every time you get into your car, you must first learn to drive to your limits. You should also treat events and championships in the same way, gradually building up to the more difficult and competitive ones.


I was really determined to improve and so I listened to the advice given to me. It was decided I would do a limited Tarmac championship to get my driving up to par. It was suggested to me to drop Lindisfarne and Mull in my 1st year but because I progressed enough before Summer I was fortunately allowed to do the Lindisfarne where I finished 15th overall.

2011 season: At the end of the first season I finished 1st in 1600 class and won the Best Newcomer award.

SS5 Get consistent…

Time to kick it up another level. By now you're into your second season and it's time to put to use your seat time and experience. Now it's about combining your new found knowledge and experience in order to get consistently fast without having big moments. By now you should be able to push your car to its limits as well as knowing exactly what its limitations are. Becoming more proactive and learning the effects of changing components on the car. Suspension, brake balance and tyre compound etc.

This time I was doing the whole STRC championship, pushing the car harder and in doing so we started to put more stress on the car.

Matthew SS5a

This in turn led to some mechanical retirements. However in order to compete at the level we wanted to, we quickly realised this system of fixing problems as they arose was not going to do.

We had to adapt and grow as a team. This is were we started to check list each component, making sure that they were replaced before they were liable to break. This dramatically changed our season, and with no more mechanical problems we were able to produce a strong string of results.

Most notably Mull where I finished 32nd Overall and 2nd in class, Noted by Callum Duffy, the Rally's winner, as one of the wettest and most difficult Mull rallies he had competed in.

2012 season: at the end of my second season I ended up trying to put pressure on the big boys, finishing 3rd Overall in the STRC Championship, winning the Junior STRC Championship and winning the 1600 class.
…( as you can see the awards dinner was in Movember!)

Matthew Awards

SS6 Keep pushing…

No driver, co-driver, mechanic or even team can cease to improve. As long as there is the passion and the will to learn, you will always keep improving.

Now it's time for me to start again as I move into the SRC Championship, which is a forest stage championship. New surface, new car and a whole new learning curve.

At times it can be frustrating when you want to push on, but on reflection without this stage by stage approach I wouldn't be close to the driver I am today.

Matthew Car

Matthew Kesson

© Copyright, Whickham and District Motor Club Limited 2021 Website Powered By tmb