Stobarts on course for points

Stobarts on course for pointsFrom Ford Press [ 11/03/2007 ].
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Both Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud and Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila now sit in Manufacturer point scoring positions for the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team after day two of Corona Rally Mexico. Team-mates Matthew Wilson/Michael Orr are on course for their first championship point of the year in eighth, with Latvala and Solberg in seventh and ninth respectably.


Today's stages took place between Guanajuato City and Leon, Mexico's shoe and leather capital. Leg 2 played host to the longest test of Rally Mexico, the 30.2 kilometre Ibarrilla stage which ran twice through the mountainous regions north of Leon.

The stages proved tricky this morning with dust and loose gravel making conditions tough especially for top-order running competitors. Over the second pass roads became cleaner, producing more grip for drivers showing improved times in the afternoon's repeated tests.

Competitors concluded the day tackling the amazing Nextel Super Special stage to the delight of local rally fans, who were treated to massive jumps, water splashes and high speed racing all within the 2.2 kilometres of closely fought action.

After a rather forgetful day one, Solberg fought back, progressively setting faster stage times throughout the day to jump from his overnight position of 19th to an incredible ninth overall.  
After early troubles with visibility and loose gravel, as a result of running second on the road, the Norwegian steadied the ship finishing the final proper stage fifth quickest.

Latvala had the sole task of maintaining his seventh position with big gaps between both rivals in front and behind. The 21-year-old showed a matured drive taking no risks in holding his position, while setting some impressive times including two top-five stage classifications on stages 12 and 13. The Finn will be looking to add to his Championship point tally heading into tomorrow's final leg.

Britain's number one WRC driver, Wilson, steadily made progress setting several top ten stage times over the day. It was a good run this morning until a closed gate blocked his passage and an over-shot junction on the 23.51 kilometre Duarte 1 stage, lost the youngster 30 seconds. Fortunately Wilson battled on and now sits in eighth, over two minutes ahead of team-mate Solberg in ninth.

Going into Leg 3, the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team have all three WRC crews in the top ten, a miraculous achievement by the trio in their short history together. The team will look to hold third position in the Manufacturer standings when they launch into the rally's closing leg tomorrow.

Henning Solberg
“On the first stage this morning everything was ok but there was a bit of dust at the end of the stage which made it difficult to see braking points. The afternoon stages were feeling much better, we had a bit of gravel in the front of the car on stage 14 but no problems. The car is running well and I am very happy with my times today; I was working hard, it is not easy to be second on the road here I can tell you that. It is actually still difficult on the second time over the stages because some of the lower cars actually throw gravel back onto the road which does not make it easy. I'm happy we are in ninth and we'll try our best tomorrow and see what happens.”

Jari-Matti Latvala
“It was a pressure-free day today because we didn't really have anything to gain but everything to lose. There was no point to push today and throw it all away, and without the pressure I seemed to be able to find my confidence in the car and myself. I really enjoyed the afternoon and the times were quite good so I am very happy, much better than yesterday. The car has been performing really well today and we kept the ride height up so not to damage it. We will do the same tomorrow and see what happens, it is nice to be in the points again this rally.”

Matthew Wilson
“It was ok today, just a lot of little problems that slowed us down a bit which weren't so good for the confidence levels. I was feeling quite good this morning but on stage 10 we lost about 30 seconds after a few things went wrong. We stalled on the first hairpin and then over-shot a junction towards the end of the stage which didn't help our time. I also drove through a steel gate which was closed over the road, luckily for us it did not damage the car but we still lost time slowing down for it. On the plus side however, we are looking fine for some points and I haven't made any mistakes at all during this event.”

Malcolm Wilson
“Today has been quite promising as Henning has climbed back into the top ten and we have the three Stobart cars filing the seventh, eighth and ninth positions. All three cars are in point scoring positions and I just hope they can maintain this for tomorrow, there is still quite a bit of mileage left on the final day. Matt's times improved well on the second pass and Jari has showed some impressive pace today on stages that he has never competed on before.”