Stobart a strong top 10 force in Jordan

Stobart a strong top 10 force in JordanFrom Ford Press [ 26/04/2008 ].
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A drama-filled day 2 of the Jordan Rally has seen all three Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team members advance inside the top-ten leaderboard. The current results put both nominated points scoring crews in a strong position for another solid haul in the FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers.

Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin continue to lead the pack occupying sixth outright with another impressive day of driving. The British pair managed to hold the fine position to the end of the day after advancing from seventh earlier this morning.

Norwegians Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud brushed off some early cobwebs to move into seventh position by day’s end. The pair clicked into gear in the afternoon loop of stages after finding a comfortable setup which worked well with Pirelli’s Scorpion gravel tyre.

Returning under SupeRally regulations after retiring from day 1, Gigi Galli/Giovanni Bernacchini put on an excellent display to move into 10th position by the end of day 2. The Italian made some small changes to the setup of his Stobart Ford Focus RS WRC07 which resulted in prime performance as he set fastest stage times on the final three stages this afternoon.

Twenty-one-year-old Wilson’s multitude of top-eight stage times and consistent driving rewarded him with advancement on his overnight position as he now looks poised for yet another points finish with one day remaining. He will head into tomorrow’s final leg with team-mate Solberg lurking just 14.4 seconds adrift.

Galli again set off with a cautious approach to the new stages this morning and was rewarded with his top-ten position by the end of today’s leg. The Italian currently occupies sixth in the manufacturers’ points chase for the Stobart team.

Setup changes in lunch-time service also benefited Solberg who set a speedy third fastest time on the 13.13 kilometre Baptism Site 2 test. The only trouble to disrupt the Norwegian was a small spin on the final sector of stage 15 losing him around 10 seconds.

Today’s 110 kilometres of competitive distance again took crews into a dessert heat over four special stages run twice each over the day. All four tests were located to the north of Rally HQ on the shores of the Dead Sea.

Pirelli’s hard compound gravel tyre has again proven its strength on another tough day of attrition which saw several top crews, including rally leader Sebastien Loeb, retire from today’s leg. Tomorrow will see the longest leg of the rally at 134 competitive kilometres; quite unique to a regular WRC event format. With two passes still to come over the monster Jordan River stage – the longest of the event at 41.45 kilometres – Sunday will be a true test of fitness and concentration for all crews.

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Gigi Galli said:
”Malcolm gave me some good advice this morning and obviously it’s helped as I managed to get three fastest times this afternoon. I think that, before, I was attacking too hard trying to find the times but now I’m driving more smoothly and it feels a lot better like this. The car has really been great today and now I’m starting to feel the tyres working with me. I feel more relaxed today and I’m starting to get a good flow with the stages.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Henning Solberg said:
“Today felt much better than yesterday especially on the second pass of the stages. My times were much faster on the afternoon loop as we made a few small changes in service and they helped to give me more confidence. It’s not easy to go fast right from the start especially when we don’t get to do much testing. I managed to get some time back on Matthew today and it looks like we have a bit of a race tomorrow but there are still quite a lot of kilometres left and we can’t afford to make a mistake on the last day.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Matthew Wilson said:
“We’ve got a battle now with Henning and I think I’m going to have to give it a bit of a push tomorrow to keep out of his reach. I enjoyed today and everything feels good; the car has been great. We had a big sideways moment halfway through the last stage today, we were basically flat out and I just managed to hang onto it so I still need to keep concentrating for tomorrow. But I’m quite confident as things have gone quite well so far and I haven’t made any mistakes.”

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
“All three crews have done a great job today and not made any mistakes at all. It’s great to see Gigi fighting his way back up the leaderboard with three fastest times especially with the ongoing battle for the lead. We’ve also got an exciting internal battle within the Stobart team with Henning and Matthew quite close heading into the last day tomorrow. They know they need to finish safely though as both are on for a good haul of Drivers’ Championship points.”

Day 2 Leaderboard
1. D Sordo/M Marti E Citroën C4 2h29.02.9s
2. J-M Latvala/M Attila FIN Ford Focus RS +8.5s
3. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Ford Focus RS +10.4s
4. C Atkinson/S Prevot AUS Subaru Impreza +2m02.5s
5. U Aava/K Sikk EE Citroën C4 +3m07.2s
6. M Wilson/S Martin GB Ford Focus RS +4m56.5s
7. H Solberg/C Menkerud N Ford Focus RS +5m10.9s
8. F Villagra/J Perez Companc RA Ford Focus RS +6m 56.3s
9. K Al-Qassimi/M Orr UAE Ford Focus RS +7m 10.5s
10. G Galli/G Bernacchini I Ford Focus RS +11m29.7s