WRC

Stobart Friday summary

Rally Jordan

MIXED FORTUNES IN MIDDLE EAST FOR STOBART

After yesterday's Jordan Rally stages were cancelled due to the late arrival of service park infrastructure, Matthew Wilson led the way for the M-Sport Stobart Ford World Rally Team as the FIA World Rally Championship action finally got under way as he finished the first day seventh overall.

We lost some time on the twisty downhill sections this afternoon and we noticed this on some of the splits, so we need to work on that tomorrow.

Matthew Wilson

The 24-year-old Cumbrian gained confidence as the day unfolded and vastly improved his times on the afternoon's repeat 72.15 km rock-strewn loop, completing the 17.20 km Kafrain stage 23.6 seconds quicker on the second pass and finishing the day just 12 seconds adrift of Kimi Rdikkvnen in sixth position.

Wilson and co-driver Scott Martin are paying a special tribute to Edward Stobart, who helped build the hugely successful Eddie Stobart haulage empire, in the Middle East this week. The duo can be seen on the stages sporting a special livery design on the bonnet of their Ford Fiesta RS WRC in memory of their fellow Cumbrian.

Jordan Rally debutant Mads Xstberg opted for a cautious approach on today's opening stage, eager to learn the stages and gain valuable experience of the newly-developed Michelin tyres. By Stage 8, however, Xstberg had begun to find his rhythm and finished the Kafrain stage fifth-fastest. By the end of the opening loop the M-Sport Stobart driver was sixth overall, 3.6 seconds behind fellow Fiesta RS WRC driver Mikko Hirvonen.

Stage 10 saw technical gremlins beset Xstberg and co-driver Jonas Andersson when the Scandinavian duo suffered from a broken gearbox in their Fiesta RS WRC. Xstberg will return under SupeRally regulations tomorrow in an attempt to salvage valuable driver and manufacturer points.

Henning Solberg -- who celebrates his 100th WRC in Jordan this week - reported his Fiesta RS WRC was running perfectly on the opening two stages, but disaster struck when he hit a rock on the 41.45 km Jordan River Stage which damaged the oil sump. A disappointed Solberg was forced to retire, but the team worked tirelessly on his car to ensure the battling WRC 'centurion' is able to return under SupeRally regulations tomorrow. {{1088775|right|s4}

Matthew Wilson said: "This morning was OK but this afternoon was much better, and we've got a good feeling with the car now. We lost some time on the twisty downhill sections this afternoon and we noticed this on some of the splits, so we need to work on that tomorrow. It's been really hot in the car today too -- I really notice the heat more in the Fiesta RS WRC compared to the Focus RS WRC. There was lots of very loose gravel on the stages and the grip was constantly changing but the new Michelin tyres are very strong. There were a couple of times where we went over some sharp rocks but there's been no punctures which shows how durable they are. I think they've maybe had to sacrifice some of the grip making the tyres stronger, but they are working very well so far in tough conditions like we have here in Jordan."

Mads Xstberg said: "It is a pity what happened today and, for sure, I am disappointed. I had really hoped that my problems would be left behind in Portugal. It's so frustrating but we must try again tomorrow. I really enjoyed the long Jordan River stage so it is quite frustrating that we had to retire before we had our second run -- I think we could have improved our times a great deal on the second pass."

Henning Solberg said: "It's my 100th WRC event this week and I really hoped that I would have no problems here, but it seems that my bad luck continues. The car was running perfectly for the first two stages and then half way through the Jordan River stage we hit a really big rock and we had to stop. I thought it might have been engine problems at first but when we got the car back to service we found out that there was damage to the oil sump. The team have worked on the car this afternoon and I'm told that we can SupeRally tomorrow. I am disappointed but that is how it is - I will try again tomorrow."

-source: stobart

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Series WRC
Tags ford, m-sport, ostberg, stobart, wilson

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