Henning claims a manufacturer point

Henning claims a manufacturer pointFrom Ford Press [ 21/01/2007 ].
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The Stobart VK M-Sport Ford crew of Henning Solberg and Cato Menkerud have successfully scored the team's first manufacturer point in 2007. Rallye Monte Carlo proved to be a great learning curve for all three drivers, competing on their first tarmac rally in the Ford Focus RS WRC 06.

Weather conditions were scarcely different to what has been seen in previous years with a lack of snow and ice, which would normally dominate the mountainous Vercors and Ardeche regions this time of year. Tyre choice and safety noting were once again a decisive factor in this the 75th anniversary of Rallye Monte Carlo.

Matthew Wilson finished in top spot for the team coming home in 12th showing consistent pace over arguably the trickiest rally in the championship. Wilson completed every stage with only one small moment, sliding off the road momentarily in stage 10, a great effort on the very unpredictable Valence-based stages. At only 19 years of age the young speedster is looking like developing into a great prospect for future years to come.

With Wilson not nominated as a points scorer for the manufacturer team, Solberg's rally finish meant the team was awarded its first manufacturer point of the year, a delight for the Norwegian driver. 
Solberg took it very easy over the weekend still adapting to the car and tarmac driving, but his cautious approach meant the successful completion of all 15 stages and a well deserved point in his first true tarmac rally. The coming rallies in Sweden and Norway will be more suited to his driving. With five Norwegian Championships under his belt, he will be a forced to be reckoned with.

The Finnish crew of Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila showed they will not be taken lightly this year setting some excellent stage times throughout the weekend, including some fastest split times and two third places in leg 3.

An unfortunate mistake resulting in a bent roll cage on stage 14 saw the end of the pair's outstanding run, who at the time were sitting in ninth position, 5.4 seconds adrift of eighth. Apart from some minor bruising to Anttila's ribs, both competitors came through the hard impact accident unhurt.

The next round of the WRC calendar is the high speed Swedish Rally and with two Scandinavian drivers on board it will be game on for the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team. Both Latvala and Solberg have an outstanding history on snow rallies and will be the driving force in pursuit of the team's next manufacturer points.

Matthew Wilson
“Today's stage was really fun, the track was very slippery and it was definitely more of a spectacle for the spectators as we were all using snow tyres. It was a good end to a difficult rally for me but I started off the event with the aim of finishing and that's exactly what I did. This rally had really good stages but the conditions were so difficult, sometimes the surface was dry with lots of grip and then we would it a slippery damp section. You had to be so careful.”

Jari-Matti Latvala
“I'm so disappointed after yesterday. The rally had been going so well for me and it looked good for me to take a drivers point but I got caught out with some gravel and slid into a small stone wall. I was really happy with the car during the rally it took me a while to adjust my driving style but the last half of the event felt really god for me. I was delighted to set some fast times but very unhappy with how the event finished. Now I am really looking forward to Sweden and Norway!”

Henning Solberg
“The super special stage today was fantastic, there was so many people watching and it was exciting to perform in front of them. Ok, I struggled with this event as it was my first dry tarmac rally and I need some more time to get used to the car and the surface. It was important that I finished all the stages and get the experience. Now I can't wait to start Sweden and Norway and my championship campaign will really start from then on.”

Malcolm Wilson, Team Principal
“It's very encouraging for Henning, scoring the team's first manufacturer point of the new season and his championship campaign will start in earnest in Sweden. I am very disappointed with what happened to Jari-Matti on the final stage yesterday. It's highly frustrating after his superb performance to go and throw it all away on the last proper test. The only consolation is that he did get to complete all of the proper stages. I'm pleased that both Matthew and Henning made it to the finish; given the difficult conditions they did fairly well with there first tarmac outing in the car.”