Stobart’s Østberg Battles For Sixth With Spain’s Sordo
M-Sport Stobart Ford World Rally Team driver Mads Østberg is only 0.5 seconds adrift of sixth place after the first day of action at the final round of this year’s FIA World Rally Championship, Wales Rally GB. Team-mates Matthew Wilson and Henning Solberg lie ninth and tenth respectively.
The Cumbria-based team travelled north of this year’s rally base in Builth Wells to Llandudno where the crews tackled three stages totalling 25.25 km in their Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Cars. The opening stages included two passes through a 4.74 km all-asphalt test, Great Orme, on the picturesque Creuddyn Peninsula.
Østberg and co-driver Jonas Andersson set the fastest time at yesterday’s pre-event Shakedown test and were feeling confident with the set-up of their Ford Fiesta RS WRC ahead of today’s stages. The 24-year-old reported his car was lacking power but the Norwegian driver battled on to finish Stage 3 only 0.5 seconds behind Dani Sordo in sixth place.
Britain’s Wilson and co-driver Scott Martin had a clear run through today’s stages to sit ninth overall, 1.3 seconds ahead of their team-mates Henning Solberg and Ilka Minor.
Mads Østberg said:
“We had a good run on Shakedown yesterday and today has been OK for us. I knew some of the roads from the Cambrian Rally which we did in 2009 so that also helped. We’ve been happy with the set-up and haven’t really had any problems with the car but I have felt like it’s been down on power. I don’t know why so we need to have a look at this during service. It’s been difficult with the conditions today - it’s very muddy and slippery. I didn’t like the kerbs on the right hand side on the Great Orme stage - it looked easy to make a mistake by hitting them so I backed off to save getting into any trouble.”
Matthew Wilson said:
“Scott and I decided not to take any risks today. We knew the conditions wouldn’t be great so we didn’t push on the Great Orme stage and I’m glad as it was very, very slippery. We were happy with our pace but the stage in the forest was a bit frustrating. We were going really well for the first 7km and were up on Mads by about two seconds but then the front left bumper light came loose and onto the bonnet which shone straight into my eyes. I could barely see the road so we lost some time on the last section.”
Henning Solberg said:
There was a lot of fog in the last stage and it was getting dark - it became difficult to see the road so I backed off. Great Orme was very difficult because the road is fast in places but it doesn’t follow a natural line because of the pavement so you end up taking bigger cuts. I really, really enjoy these sorts of road conditions though so I am happy and enjoying myself. There’s still a long way to go in this rally and now our plan is to go flat out tomorrow!”