Henning chasing little brother

Henning chasing little brotherFrom Ford Press [ 17/02/2007 ].
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After a day full of dramas and excitement both Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud and Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila sit in top five positions heading into leg 3 tomorrow. Latvala finished the day fifth with a comfortable gap over sixth placed Stohl, while Solberg lies in forth, a mere 9.9 seconds behind his brother Petter in third.

Team-mates Matthew Wilson/Michael Orr were not so lucky with their day's rallying ending early, on stage 10, after a hard impact, broke the front suspension in their Ford Focus RS WRC06. Wilson stopped eight kilometres into the Terningmoen stage and was unable to continue, but will restart the rally tomorrow.

The Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team are once again showing the pace, proving they are not here to be taken lightly. The two nominated point scoring drivers are again backing up the BP-Ford duo of Marcus Gronholm and Mikko Hirvonen, keeping the Ford Manufacturer rivals at bay.

Overnight snow-falls were once again a huge factor in today's standings with many top crews coming unstuck in the tricky conditions. Up to 20cm of snow was recorded on stages, making road surfaces extremely slippery as higher than normal temperatures kept it dangerously soft.

Today's stages included the longest of the rally, stage 9 at 44.28 kilometres, as well as the highest in the rally, Mountain 1 at 750 metres in elevation. Tomorrow's final leg offers competitors four testing stages finishing on the monster Elverum stage.  

Solberg drove another sensible opening loop keeping his Focus RS on the road and in solid points contention. After mistakes from both Galli and Loeb on stage 12 the Norwegian pushed hard in the final section finishing the last four stages in the top five, including a third placed stage time. With brother and fellow local hero Petter Solberg just seconds ahead, it will be a massive battle heading into tomorrow's closing leg.

Latvala continued his display of consistent speed finishing all but one stage in the top ten, an impressive feat for the 21-year-old. While the young Finn is still a minute adrift of Solberg in forth, the gap between the number nine car and its closest rival is a healthy 54.3 seconds which will be helpful in holding fifth position tomorrow.

After getting through the difficult first stage this morning with no problems, Wilson ran wide on a slow corner in stage 10 collecting a small concrete post. As a result the front steering-arm broke and the crew were forced to retire from the leg just 54 kilometres in. With minimal damage to the car they will restart tomorrow to try and gain as much experience as possible on this tricky Scandinavian surface.

Henning Solberg
“I was not so happy this morning because I made a wrong tyre choice which lost me some time. This afternoon I was pushing as hard as I could and we went off twice in stage 13. The conditions are so tricky, you can not see very well and the roads are full of snow. I will try my best tomorrow and hopefully take the podium spot off my brother.”

Jari-Matti Latvala
“The first stage was one of the most difficult stages I've ever done! It was very hard out there going flat out sliding over snow-banks but we are still here and it has been fun. I was pushing as hard as I could in the final stages, I was collecting a lot of snow in the front of the car and sometimes found it hard to brake which made it so difficult. I'm just happy to get through today and it is great to be back in the points, unlucky for some of the other guys but it just goes to show how tough this rally is.”

Malcolm Wilson, Team Principal
“Henning and Jari went extremely well today and they're now both inside the top five. Henning is pushing hard to catch Petter and it would be good for him to take third place tomorrow. I am disappointed at how things ended up for Matthew but the car isn't badly damaged and indeed he will be back in tomorrow. The whole team are doing well, the guys have went well to-day and we are all hoping for solid finishes tomorrow.”

Matthew Wilson
“In the second stage I got slightly too sideways coming into a slow left-hand corner and hit a concrete post with the front wheel, breaking the steering-arm instantly as we were on full lock with the steering. It happened so easily, I can't believe it.”