Stobart aiming for a trio of strikes in Turkey Next week the FIA World Rally Championship returns to Turkey after a year of absence from the Eurasian event. With all three crews from the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team returning after last ...
Stobart aiming for a trio of strikes in Turkey
Next week the FIA World Rally Championship returns to Turkey after a year of absence from the Eurasian event. With all three crews from the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team returning after last week's Greek round it will be yet another battle for points in the Manufacturers' Championship as the team lies just 13 points behind third placed Subaru.
Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud head the fleet after an unfortunate performance in Greece which saw a podium slip out of their grasp with a mysterious electrical problem. They will be partnered by Gigi Galli/Giovanni Bernacchini as the second nominated point scoring crew who showed impressive speed in Greece winning four of the 20 special stages of the rough Acropolis event; which are similar to the Turkish rocky roads.
Team-mates Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin will pair up as the third Stobart entered crew to tackle the Kemer-based event. Wilson will be looking to further his points tally in the Drivers' Championship where he currently occupies ninth position.
The event holds special memories for both Solberg and Galli. Solberg scored his first ever podium finish in 2006 while the energetic Italian first led a WRC event here in 2005. The fond memories will help the Norwegian as he looks to capitalise on his experience here which has seen him attempt the event on three occasions.
Galli has only pursued Turkish delight twice finishing 10th in 2004 followed by an eighth place finish in 2005 after leading on the first day of the event. After skipping 2006 the Italian star will be looking to continue on an upward spiral and finish in the points in 2008.
Wilson becomes the team rookie for this event having only competed here once in 2006 where he finished a well driven 12th overall. The 21-year-old will this year be looking to step up a gear and finish in the points after a full WRC season under his belt since the Turkish round last rolled into town two years ago.
Since its inception into the WRC in 2003 the Rally of Turkey has been known for its rough gravel roads which run through picturesque mountain scenery in the country's southwest region near Antalya. It is also renowned for the unpredictably changing weather conditions which were evident in 2006 when the event was run in October and threw a mammoth storm into the mix.
The event this year will see competitors cover 360 kilometres of competitive distance over 19 testing stages. Central Service Park will again be located in the resort town of Kemer allowing fans to get up-close-and-personal as teams service their vehicles over the four day event.
A ceremonial start will take place on Thursday night in the grounds of the Akdeniz University before crews motor over the 2.6 kilometre Antalya super special. Racing in June this year the rally will be a hot test for crews and the Pirelli Scorpion gravel tyre which has proven its worth on some tough events already this season.
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Gigi Galli said:
"I have good memories of the rally in Turkey as it was the first time I ever led a WRC event back in 2005. The road conditions are generally quite good and not as rough as the last rally in Greece which I think is a welcome change for everyone. My confidence is high after the last two gravel rallies. We have learnt a lot and it feels good to have set fastest stage times on both Sardinia and Greece and I know that the feeling with the car is very good now. The Pirelli tyres have proved they can cope with the rough conditions and my pace is getting much better; now I just need some luck on this rally."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Henning Solberg said:
"It's good to return to Turkey after missing it last year. I enjoy the stages, they are not as rough as in Greece but sometimes similar to GB stages and this is the type of surface that I enjoy. We were very disappointed in Greece that the podium slipped away on the last day but if I look back on the last three events then it's easy to see that we have got more experience and a good rhythm with the car. For me this is important as we don't have testing time and we need to learn during the events. Another podium here would be fantastic."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Matthew Wilson said:
"I don't have much experience of this event but can remember quite a bit from the 2006 stages. Hopefully the weather will be better this year and if the stages are dry and in good condition then I think it will be an exciting event. It will be a strange feeling going back to an event that we missed last year as every aspect of my driving has improved vastly since 2006; especially my pace notes and we will be making new ones for sure. We finished top Stobart crew in Greece, set faster times and collected some good points there so my aim for Turkey is similar; more pace and more points for the Drivers' Championship."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
"We have now reached the halfway point in the series and the Stobart crews have been steadily improving over the last few events. Gigi has posted a raft of fastest stage times recently and there's no reason why this shouldn't continue in Turkey and together with Henning, who scored his first WRC podium on this event a few years ago, I believe we have a strong chance to chase for a podium again. With Matthew's improved performance in Greece, we now have all three crews inside the championship top-10 and I know that all the guys are keen to claim some more drivers' points and finish the first half of the season on a high."