FIA World Rally Championship competitor Matthew Wilson and his co-driver Scott Martin are set to tackle one of Britain's landmark cycling challenges, the Land's End to John o'Groats this summer. The pair plan to compete the 960-mile (1540km) route in nine days to raise money for the Richard Burns Foundation and the Great North Air Ambulance.
Wilson and Martin race for the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team, Ford's number two rally team. They will also be raising funds for the the Cumbria Community Foundation which makes grants to local charities in Cumbria where the team is based.
There's long been a link between rallying and cycling, with many drivers riding for fitness, and top cyclists dabbling in rallying. Former top driver Colin McRae was a keen mountain biker, while multiple world mountain bike champion Nicolas Vouilloz competes in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, and BMX legend Dave Mirra races in the North American Rally Championship.
The charities Wilson and Martin are supporting have motorsport links, but reach more broadly. The Richard Burns Foundation works to inspire and support people with serious injury and illness. It was set up in the memory of the British 2001 World Rally Champion who died in November, 2005 at the age of 34 after suffering from a brain tumor.
The Great North Air Ambulance Service operates three helicopters based at Teesside, Cumbria and Northumberland. In 2005 one of these helped airlift Martin to hospital after a serious crash on the Rally of Wales. Stories of helicopter rescues of injured cyclists, especially mountain bikers, are not uncommon.
For more about the ride and to support the charities, see www.end2end2008.com.