Stobart Strive For Podium On WRC Season Closer
The M-Sport Stobart Ford World Rally Team will be looking to end the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) season in style at the wheel of the Ford Fiesta RS WRC by finishing on the podium at [this] week’s Wales Rally GB.
The Cumbria-based squad have had a strong season in the WRC after finishing in the top five on eight occasions, marking the team’s best performance since they entered the championship in 2006. Norway’s Mads Østberg finished runner-up at the WRC curtain-raiser in Sweden and Britain’s Matthew Wilson matched his best ever result after scoring a career-best fourth place at Rally Australia.
Ahead of Wales Rally GB, Wilson is lending his support to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) which aims to prevent needless accidents amongst young drivers aged between 18 and 24. In support of the Englishman’s campaign to promote safer driving, the 24-year-old driver will feature an Action for Road Safety (AfRS) sticker on his car next week.
The livery on Wilson and co-driver Scott Martin’s Ford Fiesta RS WRC will also include a special design celebrating the life of Moto GP star Marco Simoncelli who visited M-Sport in Cumbria recently but was tragically killed competing in Malaysia last month.
Wilson tested his Fiesta RS WRC at Greystoke Forest earlier this week and hopes the extra seat time will help him to overhaul Dani Sordo who sits just four points ahead in the drivers’ standings.
With gravel being their favoured surface, recently-crowned Norwegian Rally Champions Mads Østberg and co-driver Jonas Andersson are aiming to end their debut season with the M-Sport Stobart Ford World Rally Team on a high. Østberg, who sits sixth in the drivers’ standings, has reported he would like to push for a podium at the WRC season closer providing his test in the car goes well on Saturday.
Regular team-mates Henning Solberg and co-driver Ilka Minor will also be present under the M-Sport Stobart banner at the final round of the WRC. Solberg will be the only driver not to benefit from a pre-event test but will be looking to take advantage of his past experience in Wales. Next week will mark the 11th time that the Norwegian driver has contested the British edition of the WRC but will be the first time alongside current co-driver Minor.
Since Spain, Solberg has taken part in the Oslo Motorshow
alongside younger brother Petter and fellow team-mate Mads Østberg where they entertained the crowds with various stunts and show driving.
Mads Østberg said:
“I’d say that Sweden, Finland and Wales are three of my favourite rallies in the WRC so I’m really looking forward to competing in the UK next week. I’m aiming for a top five finish this week but if our test on Saturday goes well then I may feel that we could push for a podium. Wales is a rally I expect to do well at because we know the stages and if we stay out of trouble then I think we could get a good result. I like the character of the roads and the people are nice – the rally feels a lot like home so I’m feeling very comfortable going there. There’s no doubt that it’s going to be a very difficult event to finish the year, the days are incredibly long but we are prepared for that. I may even get Jonas to drive some of the road sections so I can try to rest a little before and after the stages.”
Matthew Wilson said:
“Wales is my home event and it’s always a fantastic rally to mark the end of the season. The fans are incredibly supportive and it’s a rally where I want to finish with a good result more than ever. For sure, I was disappointed to move down to eighth in the standings after my final day retirement in Spain but we’ve been a lot closer to the drivers in the top five in terms of points this year. I’m pleased to support the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents this year in Wales. I strongly believe that to be safe on the road all drivers must understand their limitations and this also reflects the demands of being successful in motorsport. I have an inherent respect for my car and maintain focus at all times in order to keep myself and Scott safe.”
Henning Solberg said:
“Sweden and Wales are two of the WRC events that I know the best and even though we don’t have a test before I think I’m well prepared for the rally. The last couple of rounds have been good for us, it’s taken a while for me to get to grips with the Ford Fiesta RS WRC but I’m now feeling very confident in the car and think that if we have no problems then we will have a good finish. It’ll be nice also to return to some of the classic stages but for sure, the days will be long but it is the same for everyone. The weather is one of the biggest problems in Wales. Rain can make the stages treacherously slippery and with such long days, I’ll need to try to maintain a high level of concentration. It’d be good to end the season on a high for my sponsors and I’d be happy with a top five result next week.”