The Austrian driver completed a first adjustment day on board the Ford Fiesta WRC and he expects to push a bit harder tomorrow.

Manfred Stohl and Ilka Minor, Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Manfred Stohl and Ilka Minor, Ford Fiesta RS WRC

Photo by: Ford Motor Company

Manfred Stohl is officially back in the FIA World Rally Championship and after completing the first leg of Rally New Zealand, seventh round of the season, the Austrian driver managed to claim the 11th position overall.

On board the Ford Fiesta WRC entered under the Brazil World Rally Team and after a logical period of adjustment Sothl is ready to take a step forward in an event that has historically suited him.

This was the first time for Manfred and his co-driver Ilka Minor out in a new generation World Rally Cars and they took this first Day to adjust to the car and the notes while trying to push as harder as they could in really slippery conditions for moments.

Weather was unpredictable and the gambling on rain prevailed practically during the whole first day of action. Road conditions constantly changed even throughout the same stage from wet to dry sections and the tyre choice was crucial to move forward in the classification.

"It was very nice out there and I really enjoyed driving these stages. I did like road conditions, the problem was that I had to adjust myself to the notes and everything, but the car has worked fine" said Manfred.

As if that wasn't enough, the drivers were facing one of the longest legs of the season (209.60km) -with most of the stages edging 30km- and just had a 15-minute short remote service zone to make repairs.

Stohl was involved in a tight and intense battle against Ken Block (Ford) for the 10th position during the last group of stages ; however, a drive shaft problem in the last stage prevented him from remaining in the top 10 point positions. "I am very happy to have finished the day, especially after that problem. We only had two-wheel drive" stated Manfred.

Tomorrow's route. For the second day of action the drivers will head to the Northland region with stages spread through the Whangarei and Kaipara districts, and with another remote service, this time in Whangarei. The leg has three stages scheduled for the start and with only the last two ones to be repeated during the afternoon's section, which also includes two other speed tests to be run in one opportunity. This leg will be considerably shorter than the one ran today, and the drivers will tackle 143.01km.