Stobart set for snowy sprint in Sweden Next week sees the second round of this year's FIA World Rally Championship as crews head north for the Uddeholm Swedish Rally. After a superb start to proceedings in Monte-Carlo...
Stobart set for snowy sprint in Sweden
Next week sees the second round of this year's FIA World Rally Championship as crews head north for the Uddeholm Swedish Rally. After a superb start to proceedings in Monte-Carlo last week the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team will be looking to continue its current form on the only true winter event this season.
This event is certainly one not be taken lightly but fortunately for the Stobart team a wealth of experience from both nominated point scoring drivers will be pushing forward the chase for a solid points finish once again.
Norwegian Henning Solberg will be the elemental factor as he takes on what is essentially his home event, for the tenth time in his career. With five consecutive Norwegian Rally Championship titles to his name Solberg and co-driver Cato Menkerud will be the ones to watch out for as they look to improve on their best result which they claimed last year by finishing fourth.
Gigi Galli heads to Sweden in a similar boat having contested the event seven times in the past with his best result coming in 2006 when he finished fourth, just seven seconds from a podium spot. Hailing from Livigno in the Alps, Galli is no stranger to driving on snow and will be looking for another fine result as he and co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini attack the Swedish roads for the first time in a Stobart Focus RS WRC07.
Recently celebrating his 21st birthday Britain's Matthew Wilson will be looking for a belated gift next week as he tackles the icy Swedish roads for the third time in his career. Wilson and co-driver Scott Martin will be looking for another strong result after a well notched-up tenth in Monte-Carlo last week.
Renowned as the pure winter event for its icy surface and massive snow banks Sweden has always been one of the highest speed rallies in the championship. This is all thanks to the creation of studded snow tyres and more recently an asymmetric design where the studs are added during the production process, using technology specially patented by Pirelli.
This year sees a change in the route as Friday's stages take a visit to the western part of the Varmland County to some classic stages used in 2000 and 2001. The remote service to be used at midday is located in Sunne, known as the town of fairytales.
The midday remote service on Saturday and Sunday will be in the town centre of Hagfors. Most of the stages on these two days will be familiar from previous years with some modifications. In total 340 kilometres of competitive mileage will be covered over 20 demanding stages.
Crews can expect anything from zero to -40 degree temperatures in what is one of the more traditional WRC stomping grounds. This year Rally HQ and permanent service park have been moved to the town of Karlstad in an effort to bring more crowds closer to the excitement. Like 2007 the Karlstad trotting track will play host to the 1.9 kilometre super special, run twice over day 1.
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Gigi Galli said:
"I really like it in Sweden because we have some great memories here. In 2005 I was fighting for the top two or three places before we had a mechanical problem and then in 2006 we only just missed out on a podium finish. I really like driving sideways and I think this is why I really like driving on snow and is the reason we have gone quite well here in the past. I hope maybe we can produce some more good results this year and perhaps challenge for a podium once again. I am still learning about the new car and the team and this year I must do what is best for my team but we will see; hopefully it will be another successful snow rally for me."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Henning Solberg said:
"This is the one I have been waiting for and hopefully we can do even better here this year after finishing fourth in 2007. I am still very inexperienced on tarmac so Monte-Carlo was really an event where I wanted to get experience and finish all the stages but Sweden will be different, it will be maximum attack. The Stobart team is in a great position already so I must remember points for the team is very important but snow is also where I am most comfortable in a rally car so we will try our very best to push for a podium spot."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Matthew Wilson said:
"Now I have a full WRC event under my belt with the '07 car and Scott as my new co-driver I'm really looking forward to Sweden and to see what we can produce there. It's definitely one of my more favoured events because of the incredible high speeds we are able to travel at on the ice packed roads. Last year was unfortunate with what happened in the extremely cold temperatures so this time round getting to the finish is priority and hopefully a good result can follow suit."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
"Following on from Monte-Carlo I hope the Stobart team can continue to score well in Sweden. Last year Henning finished fourth here and last week Francois came tantalisingly close to a podium so hopefully in Sweden we can go one better and get on the podium. This is an event Henning feels he can be very strong and two years ago Gigi led the event so a podium is certainly not out of the question. There will be a lot of strong local talent but for Matthew I think the top-ten is a good target to aim towards."