Strong finish for Stobart Ford

Strong finish for Stobart FordFrom Ford Press [ 19/11/2006 ].
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Britain’s leading world rally star Matthew Wilson set a blistering pace through the final day of Rally New Zealand, one of the FIA World Rally Championship’s toughest events, near Hamilton today. Wilson continued to impress onlookers, demonstrating pace and maturity well beyond his 19 years, as he tamed some of the most difficult conditions in this year’s championship. Once again, the day was hit by frequent weather changes, making a tyre choice perilous for the two loops of three stages running on the Tasman coast. Wilson ended the event in 13th position having climbed back from 34th at the end of leg one.


On his final outing with the team this season, Luis Perez Companc (Argentina) turned in a fantastic day, maintaining the pace he showed throughout this event to end the rally in a strong seventh position. The performance of both Wilson and Companc cements the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team’s fifth place in the manufacturers’ championship.

Sporting details:
Luis Perez Companc began the day in a solid, points-scoring seventh position and remained there until the finish. He set times inside the top 10 throughout the third and final leg of the event, to collect his first World Rally Championship points of the season.

Matthew Wilson continued to flatten his considerable learning curve in his first full season in the World Rally Championship. A minor intercom problem forced Wilson and co-driver Michael Orr to swap crash helmets before the start of the second stage this morning, allowing Wilson to hear the pace notes being read to him. Obviously, it worked a treat as Wilson posted an amazing fifth quickest on a stage he was seeing for the first time in his life. Wilson’s only other minor problem was a spin mid-way through the first run at Whaanga Coast.

Technical details:
Matthew Wilson’s Ford Focus RS WRC 06 began to overheat at the end of the final stage, which was a legacy of him clipping a rock and damaging the water pipe on leg one. The sister car of Luis Perez Companc had a problem with the rear dampers for one stage this morning.

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team driver Matthew Wilson said:
“There was a big puddle on the inside of a right-hand corner in the third stage today. I got the wheel a little bit too far in, the water was a bit too deep and it spun us around. That wasn’t a problem at all, but the last 10 kilometres of that stage were awful – so slippery. It wasn’t gravel slippery, either, it was all mud, which made the going quite tough. Apart from that, I’ve been fairly happy with the way things have gone. Obviously, it wasn’t good news to hit the rock on the first day, I’m disappointed with that – it cost us the chance of points. We have, however, driven all the stages at a competitive speed. I’ve enjoyed these roads and the rally, the stages have been among the most enjoyable of the whole season.

“The time in SS13 earlier today was good for me, really the whole thing has been mega – particularly dad [Malcolm, M-Sport team principal] winning the manufacturers’ world championship – he deserves it more than anybody in the world.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team driver Luis Perez Companc said:
“The rear dampers weren’t right in Whaanga Coast. I think the gas was starting to leak from them, they had lost their efficiency. This made the handling from the back of the car quite strange, it was hitting the bump stops a lot. It wasn’t so easy to drive this morning. This afternoon everything was fine – everything was great. I enjoyed the second run through the stages. They were slippery in some places, but all I wanted to do was get to the finish and take some points for the team. This has been great experience for me.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team principal Malcolm Wilson said:
“What a day! Matthew has turned in the strongest performance of the season – he has been fantastic. The stage times and the sector times speak for themselves, they’re there in black and white. I am so pleased for him. I’m also really pleased with Luis, he’s done a cracking job and brought two points to the team – a great finish to his season.”

Final Leaderboard
1. M Gronholm/ T Rautiainen FIN Ford Focus RS 4:02:30.7
2. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Ford Focus RS 4:03:26.7
3. M Stohl/I Minor A Peugeot 307 4:05:10.0
4. X Pons/C Del Barrio E Citroen Xsara 4:05:26.8
5. D Sordo/M Marti E Citroen Xsara 4:05:51.4
6. P Solberg/P Mills N Subaru Impreza 4:07:27.8
7. L Perez Companc/J Volta ARG Ford Focus RS 4:13:22.3
8. J M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Subaru Impreza 4:18:53.1
9. J Hanninen/M Sallinen FIN Mitsubishi Lancer 4:20:00.9
10. R Mason/S Randall NZ Subaru Impreza 4:22:50.7
13. M Wilson/M Orr GB Ford Focus RS 4:24:31.7