M-Sport Stobart press release
STOBART’S ØSTBERG CHARGES TO PODIUM POSITION IN WALES
M-Sport Stobart Ford’s Mads Østberg had a near-perfect drive in the Ford Fiesta RS WRC to finish the second day of Wales Rally GB third overall. It marks the first time that the Cumbria-based team have finished a full day of action at the British round of the WRC in a podium position.
Today’s stages saw the three M-Sport Stobart crews of Østberg, Matthew Wilson and Henning Solberg travel south-west to the Dyfi and Dyfnant Forests to tackle a repeat loop of four stages totalling 116 km.
The treacherously slippery road conditions proved troublesome as several WRC crews fell by the wayside. Østberg and co-driver Jonas Andersson, however, were on flying form and took advantage of the other drivers’ misfortunes whilst also setting a string of top four stage times to charge up the leaderboard and finish the day third overall. It marks the second time this year that the Scandinavian duo look set to finish on the podium for the M-Sport Stobart Ford World Rally Team.
Wilson and co-driver Scott Martin battled with fellow British driver Kris Meeke during the first full day of action on home territory. Wilson was 30 seconds clear of Meeke before the final stage but heavy fog hindered the 24-year-old Englishman’s charge and dropped him back to ninth place. With only 8.1 seconds separating the two British drivers, the set is scene for an enthralling battle tomorrow.
Henning Solberg and co-driver Ilka Minor are fifth at the end of today’s stages. The duo posted the fourth-fastest time on Stage 7 and reported a perfect set-up for the repeat afternoon pass. Solberg now lies one minute and 30 seconds adrift of his younger brother Petter and remains on target for equalling his best ever finish on British soil.
Mads Østberg said:
“Today has been a fight of the Norwegians and I won so that feels fantastic! I’m very happy with how everything has been going so far. The conditions have been very tricky but everything has been going to plan. Jari-Matti [Latvala] has been very quick at the front and our main focus was to keep ahead of Petter [Solberg]. The car has been perfect today but I also think we have done a good job inside the car with the pacenotes. I can’t forget that it has been very tricky out there and there is a fine line between having fun and ending up on the roof in a ditch! I’m very pleased with the speed and the position we are in so tomorrow I will concentrate on keeping ahead of Petter. We really want to be in third this time tomorrow so I will do everything to fight to stay here.”
Matthew Wilson said:
“We had a good morning but this afternoon has been hard as we’ve had a lot of understeer in the car. There were some points where we couldn’t seem to get the car turned in and it’s made for difficult driving. There was a heck of a lot of fog on the last stage too and we lost a lot of time. Today has been a lot about knowing how much we could push the car. We didn’t want to make any silly mistakes and the Gartheiniog stage [Stage 4 and Stage 10] was obviously a difficult one for us. It was the first time we’d been back on that stage competitively since our incident in 2005 so I was a little cautious to begin with but then I soon got into the rhythm and everything was fine. This afternoon’s pass was more difficult after the national rally had been through. A lot of holes appeared which can chuck you out of the line very easily so we have found that our times haven’t been as good as we wanted this afternoon.”
Henning Solberg said:
“We had some set-up problems this morning but nothing too big, mostly just some small changes I made between stages. This afternoon we found the perfect set-up and I am now very happy with our car. There was a lot of fog where we were starting the last stage today - it just appeared when we were on the start line. Matthew lost about a minute and we lost about 45 seconds so it was obviously a big disadvantage to us starting further down the road. The conditions have been great today – very difficult but I love this kind of challenge. I am really happy with how everything is going and now I will concentrate on staying in the top five.”