5 points for Stobart Ford

5 points for Stobart FordFrom Ford Press [ 04/09/2006 ].
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The Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team have completed their first event using the latest generation Ford Focus RS WRC06 with both Matthew Wilson and Luis Perez Companc setting times well inside the top ten over the three days of Rally Japan, the eleventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship. The team also scored five Manufacturer points to further consolidate their fifth position in the Manufacturers' championship.

Matthew Wilson endured a turbo charger failure on the rally's second day. The 19 year-old Cumbrian fought back with maturity to finish in seventh position of the Manufacturer entered cars, scoring two points. In the sister car Luis Perez Companc featured strongly in the top ten for 25 of the 27 stages but an off on the event's penultimate test meant he had to take SupeRally penalties for the final two stages. His efforts were sufficient for a sixth placed finish of the Manufacturer entries, taking three points, and eleventh overall.

The opening day of the rally had been a superb start for both drivers with Wilson the faster of the two, ending the day with co-driver Michael Orr in ninth in the overall standings, just behind a driver points scoring position. Outlining the team's potential in the technical gravel rally, Companc was just one position and 37.5 seconds away.

Saturday provided a double misfortune for Wilson, the only British driver contesting a full WRC season this year.  
On the road section to the day's first stage the turbo charger in the new Focus failed meaning Wilson had to drive through the stages at a vastly reduced pace. In the course of this, on the fourth stage, Wilson made room for a fellow competitor but became beached with his wheels stuck in a hidden drainage ditch.

With Saturday's running over for Wilson he returned to the event's final day and placed strong top ten times once more, beating far more experienced competitors in the process. After starting the day in 58th overall he finished 40th in the final results.

Luis Perez Companc and co-driver José Maria Volta featured strongly throughout the event. The pair set the fourth fastest stage time on Saturday's final stage but Sunday proved to be more problematic. An off on the first stage resulted in panel damage to their car, but worse was to come. With 18.7 km of the 26th stage completed, Companc clipped the front of his Focus and ripped a wheel off. The Argentinean crew ended their running stranded at the side of the road and were classified 11th in the final standings with their SupeRally penalties.

The Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team will next be out in action in the Cyprus Rally on September 22-24 where Matthew Wilson and Michael Orr, Luis Perez Companc and José Maria Volta will return to the previous specification Ford Focus RS WRC04/05 cars. The team will next use the Ford Focus RS WRC06 in Telstra Rally Australia on October 27-29.

Matthew Wilson
"The final day was very good, it wiped out what happened on Saturday. The car is fantastic and I can't wait until I'm out again in it in Australia and New Zealand. Everything about the car is totally different and I feel more part of the car and that has showed with the times which have been at a good pace even when I'm still getting used to the car and with missing a day. We did have an off on the final morning, if you can call it that. I got the car sideways in the braking zone on a downhill section coming to a right-hander. It was the same corner as Luis had his off in the morning and we lost about 30 seconds there.

“On Saturday we were on the road section to the first stage when the turbo boost went. We crawled through the stages and tried to fix the car between them. There was nothing we could do as the unit itself was broken which hasn't happened for years. I moved over to let Chris Atkinson through on what looked like a big grass lay-by but there was a drainage ditch under the grass. Because we had no power and there were no spectators we couldn't get out. On the first day the biggest challenge was learning the car and I had a sore back, but other than that nothing to report. It was a very good day."

Luis Perez Companc
"It was a new car and a new rally for me. The car is wonderful and I'm very happy about it. I have been learning the car more and more with every stage. We were correcting our notes every time we went through a stage, they are very narrow and tricky. The problem for me will be Cyprus when I have to go back to the old car."

Malcolm Wilson, Team Manager
"I'm really pleased with Matthew's performance. His first day was superb and on the final day he went out after a really disappointing Saturday and been quicker than far more experienced drivers. I'm disappointed with what happened on Saturday as we've never had a turbo go on a new car before, we won't know what really happened with it until we get it back to M-Sport. I'm pleased that apart from the turbo issue there's been no reliability issues from either car which is a real positive from my point of view.

“It may be a strange thing to say but I think Matthew looks very much at home in the new car. Even on the first day there were a couple of stages where he beat Dani Sordo and that sends out a lot of the right messages when you consider the amount of experience he has. Luis was very happy with the car so it's disappointing what happened on the penultimate stage."