Cordoba-Villa Carlos Paz
STOBART AIMS FOR ANOTHER HIGH FIVE IN ARGENTINA
The M-Sport Stobart Ford World Rally Team will be looking to continue its strong run in the FIA World Rally Championship by posting its sixth successive top-five result at this week’s Rally Argentina.
So far in 2011 the Cumbria-based team has placed Ford’s new Fiesta RS WRC in the top five places in each of the championship’s opening five rounds.
For the third time this year, I’m going to a rally that I’ve never been to before.
Rally Argentina debutant Mads Ostberg attended a sponsor event with Norwegian cross country skier and double Olympic champion Petter Northug last weekend. The pair travelled to the historic Oscarsborg fortress where they celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Norwegian magazine Vi Menn which features on the livery of Ostberg’s Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
The 23-year-old – who celebrated the Norwegian Constitution Day in his hometown on Tuesday - finished fifth at Rally Italia Sardinia earlier this month and is now looking to up the ante in order to chase the WRC front-runners.
Ostberg, currently leading the Norwegian Rally Championship alongside Swedish co-driver Jonas Andersson, will be faced with the daunting prospect of one of the longest stages of WRC action in recent years – the whopping 48.21 km Ascochinga stage on Sunday.
The Scandinavian pairing will also have to rise to the challenge of the famed El Condor stage on Saturday - where the WRC crews climb to 2122 metres. However, despite Ostberg having no previous knowledge of the roads compared to the other WRC drivers, the young Norwegian is looking forward to pitting himself against the tough Argentine stages and driving the Ford Fiesta WRC on asphalt for the first time on the event’s mixed surface tests.
Britain’s Matthew Wilson, who competed in the 81 mile Caledonia Etape cycle challenge in aid of Macmillan Cancer last weekend, is M-Sport Stobart’s second nominated points-scorer. Rally Argentina holds special memories for the 24-year-old Cumbrian who took a record-breaking Super Special stage win there in 2006 at just 18-years-old. It was Wilson’s first ever WRC stage victory and was a record he retained until 2009.
After brake and steering problems undermined their challenge at Rally Italia Sardegna earlier this month, Wilson and co-driver Scott Martin are looking to return to the form that saw them post successive top-five results at both Jordan Rally and Vodafone Rally de Portugal.
Regular M-Sport Stobart driver Henning Solberg and his new sponsor Ludo have agreed that the popular Norwegian will skip Rally Argentina in order to finalise his plans for the rest of 2011 and 2012 in the WRC. However, Solberg and co-driver Ilka Minor will return to the M-Sport Stobart team to pilot the Ford Fiesta RS WRC at Acropolis Rally of Greece in June.
Mads Ostberg said:
“For the third time this year, I’m going to a rally that I’ve never been to before. I really don’t know what to expect in Argentina as I have no experience of the stages, but we went to Mexico without any expectations and I finished fifth so I’d like to get a similar result next week. Saturday could be difficult – there’s going to be 20 kilometres on asphalt and we’ll have a gravel set-up. I’ve driven the Ford Fiesta S2000 on asphalt before but the Fiesta RS WRC will be a completely difference experience again. I’d be happy to finish in the top-five next week but I’d like to post some fast times and be able to push the top four more at this event.”
Matthew Wilson said:
“I really like Rally Argentina – the roads are very flowing and I prefer the stages over there compared to the last round in Sardinia. The road surface can be quite sandy which could mean that rocks will be pulled onto the road, so that could be something to keep at an eye out for. Also, because the surface can be soft, big ruts can be formed after the first pass. Managing tyre wear could be a challenge in Argentina but the new Michelin Latitude tyres proved very tough in Jordan and Sardinia so hopefully punctures are something that we won’t have to worry about next week. It rained very heavily in 2008 so I just hope it stays clear and that we can have a good run with no problems.”