Duo set for Corsica charity cycle challenge
FIA World Rally Championship driver Matthew Wilson and co-driver Scott Martin are no strangers to the twisty roads of the picturesque island of Corsica, but instead of rallying round the island in a Ford Focus RS World Rally Car they will be using pedal power next month as they tackle the 985km Tour de Corse cycle challenge on Trek Madone 5.2 road bikes.

The young Cumbrian duo will begin their mammoth journey on 7 June in a bid to raise money for the RPJ Crohn’s Foundation. The foundation was set up earlier this year by Matthew’s friend, Rick Parfitt Jnr, to help raise funds to support the National Association for Colitis and Crohn’s Disease (NACC).

Rick, son of the legendary Rick Parfitt of Status Quo, is a long-term sufferer of Crohn’s Disease and, after attending the charity’s launch event in London earlier this year, Wilson and Martin decided they wanted to do something to help raise money on behalf of their friend.

While Wilson and Martin are competing in 13 rounds of this year’s World Rally Championship (WRC) on behalf of the Stobart M-Sport Ford World Rally Team the pair have still managed to fit in training for the challenging Tour de Corse between travelling the world for various rally events. A small break in the WRC calendar during the month of June, between Rally Portugal and Rally Finland, has allowed a window for the duo to take part in the charity event.

The rally stars aim to complete the route around the coast of the French island of Corsica in eight days but, with the longest day consisting of 181km and the highest peak at 1477m, it will be no easy feat in the ferocious summer heat and mountainous terrain.

Last year the pair completed the Raid des Alpes, and in 2008 they cycled from Lands End to John O’Groats in aid of the Richard Burns Foundation and the Great North Air Ambulance. However, this year’s challenge will be the toughest yet, so in order to help them prepare for their epic journey, Wilson and Martin took part in the 81 mile Etape Caledonia Race in aid of Macmillan Cancer Care earlier this month.

Matthew Wilson said:
“Rick and I have been friends since I was 15-years-old, and after seeing him battle against Crohn’s disease I really wanted to do something to help. Scott and I went to the launch of Rick’s RPJ Crohn’s foundation in March, which made us feel we should really do something to help fundraise for the cause. This is the first time that the Rally de France hasn’t been based in Corsica and we both love cycling so it seemed like a natural choice. We have a small break from WRC events in June so the Tour de Corse will also help keep up my fitness level between rallies. It’s going to be a massive challenge, but I’m really looking forward to it.”

Scott Martin said:
“Last year, Matt and I took part in the Raid des Alpes cycle challenge which inspired us to try another cycle tour. I did some research into Corsica and, as the Rally de France wasn’t going to be based there this year, it would be a chance to experience the island in a new way. The Tour de Corse is longer than last year’s challenge in the Alpes, and will take us two extra days to complete, so it will be a big challenge. It’ll be really hard because there are going to be lots of mountains too. We’ve just confirmed the exact route this week and it has involved a lot of organisation sorting out our route and hotels each night, but I think that just adds to the challenge, especially as we are doing this for charity.”

Rick Parfitt Jnr said:
"I am humbled and honoured that Matt and Scott have taken time out to do this and furthermore, to dedicate all proceeds towards my charity. The RPJ Crohns Foundation is a cause dear to my heart, and all funds raised will go towards helping hundreds and thousands of fellow sufferers and research projects, with the hope of one-day finding a cure for this disease."

For more information on the challenge including route and photographs, please visit: www.tourdecorse.co.uk

Anyone who would like to help with Matthew Wilson and Scott Martin’s plight can donate on line via the Justgiving website: http://www.justgiving.com/tourdecorse
Alternatively, cheques made payable to the M-Sport Charity Appeal will be gratefully received: Angela Torney, M-Sport Ltd, Dovenby Hall, Dovenby, Cockermouth, Cumbria, CA13 0PN

Notes to Editors:
Crohn’s Disease affects approximately 60,000 people in the UK, around 1 in 1000. Between 3,000 and 6,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Research shows that the number of people with Crohn’s Disease has been rising steadily, particularly among young people. More recently, numbers have stabilised
The disease most commonly affects the small intestine and/or colon. It causes inflammation, deep ulcers and scarring to the wall of the intestine and often occurs in patches The main symptoms are pain in the abdomen, urgent diarrhoea, general tiredness and loss of weight. Crohn’s is sometimes associated with other inflammatory conditions affecting the joints, skin and eyes Crohn’s is a relapsing, remitting condition. Most patients remain under hospital follow-up. Urgent consultation or hospital admission may be required for ‘flare-ups’. There is no cure for Crohn’s at present, but treatment can control the disease. In most cases, Crohn’s can affect young people during their education or as they become established in their career. Most sufferers can be maintained in remission for most of the time and are able to lead a full working life. However, some who have severe disease do not achieve their full educational and career potential.

About NACC
Rick Parfitt Jnr and The RPJ Crohn’s Foundation are proud to be supported by The National Association for Colitis and Crohn’s Disease (NACC). A charity organisation, the NACC aims to unite sufferers of Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, along with their families and the health professionals who support and care for them.

To help people who live with Colitis or Crohn’s, the NACC has an extensive network of support. There are over 70 NACC groups around the UK. These groups encourage local support and self help in conjunction with increasing awareness, whilst providing information about IBD throughout the community. Local fundraising events and appeals, coupled with large scale prolific campaigns and functions, promote and advocate the important presence and work of the NACC as well as generating much needed funds.

In addition to their dedicated UK support team, the NACC conduct and commission various research projects into specific aspects of IBD. In recent years, the NACC has progressed into highlight and investigating all areas that the illness impacts on, including its social and psychological effects.

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