Rallye de France -- update after Stage 4, Grand Ballon 1 Stobart M-Sport Ford's Matthew Wilson was locked in a battle for ninth place alongside fellow Ford Focus RS WRC drivers Ken Block and Federico Villagra in the opening four stages of ...
Rallye de France -- update after Stage 4, Grand Ballon 1
Stobart M-Sport Ford's Matthew Wilson was locked in a battle for ninth place alongside fellow Ford Focus RS WRC drivers Ken Block and Federico Villagra in the opening four stages of Rallye de France.
Wilson and co-driver Scott Martin have not driven the Ford Focus RS WRC on asphalt since ADAC Rallye Deutschland in August and the pair initially struggled to adapt to the slippery sealed surface. The patchy conditions on the opening 9.90 km asphalt test made it difficult for the 23-year-old to find the right rhythm and he struggled to cope with the constant change of grip.
The WRC crews sped to a height of 1424 m for the 24.12 km Grand Ballon 1 stage where Wilson produced his best time of the morning, finishing 0.2 seconds behind Munchi's Ford driver Federico Villagra before pulling into a remote service at Mulhouse in north-east France.
At the end of SS4, Wilson was in tenth position - 14.1 seconds behind Villagra in ninth position but 3.6 seconds ahead of Stobart M-Sport Ford's other nominated points scorer in France, Ken Block. The young Briton will tackle a repeat loop of 72.93 km in the Vosges mountain range this afternoon to try and close the gap on Munchi's Ford World Rally Team driver Federico Villagra and claim ninth position.
Stobart M-Sport Ford driver Matthew Wilson said:
"One of the most difficult things about rallying is changeable conditions and that is exactly what Scott [Martin] and I experienced this morning. It's been a very challenging morning and we've been a long way off the pace compared to Germany. The opening stage was wet in some sections but dry in others -- I'd have preferred if it was one or the other as it makes judging the correct rhythm very difficult. There was a constant change of grip and I had virtually no feeling of the car which was really frustrating. The guys in front had also dragged a lot of dirt onto the stage and it was very cut up by the time we got to some sections. This is something that our gravel crews can never predict and it makes for difficult driving. I started to feel more confident by SS4 but if you're not fully charged from the beginning then it can be hard to make up time. I'm not sure what the second pass will be like but hopefully better than this morning which will help build our confidence. We could realistically move up into seventh or eighth position by the end of the day so we'll just try to push and see if we can improve on this morning's times."