Stobart gears up for another super season with a new face onboard
After a truly outstanding season in this year's FIA World Rally Championship, the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team will continue into 2008 with an exciting new force in the ranks. This season Jari-Matti Latvala caused shockwaves throughout the WRC paddock with his performances and, with his promotion to the BP-Ford team, the opportunity to fill some big shoes has been given to Italian superstar Gigi Galli.
Henning Solberg and Matthew Wilson will continue with the team in 2008 on all 15 rounds after superb performances this year, especially during the final quarter where both drivers achieved their highest results. All three drivers will have upgraded artillery in the form of the Ford Focus RS WRC 07; an evolution model from the 06 specification used by the Stobart team in the 2007 championship.
M-Sport will again run the Stobart outfit after a successful venture which has seen increasingly positive performances and overall results over the past two years. Malcolm Wilson will again offer expert guidance and management as Team Principal in 2008.
Galli's addition to the team will see him compete on all 15 rounds in a Stobart liveried car as the team's permanent nominated points scoring driver. The second scoring driver position will be left open during the year as the team looks to battle for a place on the manufacturers' championship podium for the second year running.
Fulfilling this position in next season's opening round, Rally Monte-Carlo, will be a fourth Stobart entrant as Belgian Francois Duval jumps into a Stobart liveried car to score for the team. Duval is no stranger to the blue oval as he competed as a works driver in the Ford camp on various occasions from 2002 to 2004.
Stobart's fourth place finish in the manufacturers' championship this season will mean a numeral change for next year as the two points scoring Stobart Focus RS' pick up numbers seven and eight on the livery. Wilson will retain his number 16 tag next year for those events where he is not nominated to score for the team.
The 2008 WRC season will see a reduced 15-round championship taking competitors across the globe spanning five continents. Next year also marks a new era in WRC history as Jordan becomes the first Arab country to be introduced into the championship.
The final change for 2008 sees Rally Turkey back in the action after a year's break from the WRC. Rally Ireland and Norway are being rested for 2008 after both hosting their inaugural events in the world championship this year.
2008 is set to be another top year for the Stobart team which, in its short history, has helped develop some of world rallying's finest young talent.
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
"It's set to be another exciting year for the Stobart team after such a successful season this year. Jari-Matti's promotion to the BP-Ford Abu Dhabi team has left an opportunity for someone to join this very competitive squad and we are happy to announce that it will be Italian driver Gigi Galli. Gigi has a wealth of experience in the WRC and I'm sure will be a great asset for the team. Matthew and Henning will again be part of the Stobart team after some fantastic performances in the 2007 championship. The battle this year with Subaru came down to the final event in Wales and next year things are again looking strong for the Stobart squad."