A confident Per-Gunnar Andersson and co-driver, Jonas Andersson, lead the way for the Stobart M-Sport Ford Rally Team at the end of day two of Rally Bulgaria. The wrong choice of hard compound Pirelli PZero tyres, meant 30-year-old Andersson ...
A confident Per-Gunnar Andersson and co-driver, Jonas Andersson, lead the way for the Stobart M-Sport Ford Rally Team at the end of day two of Rally Bulgaria.
The wrong choice of hard compound Pirelli PZero tyres, meant 30-year-old Andersson struggled with grip on the slippery tarmac during the day's opening stages. However, increased temperatures and humidity meant the stages were drier for the afternoon pass and proved ideally suited for the harder tyres.
With the correct tyres in place on Andersson's Ford Focus RS WRC, the Swedish driver adopted a more confident driving approach after SS7 and notably improved his stage times as he and co-driver, Jonas Andersson, tackled the repeat afternoon loop.
Andersson completed the afternoon's opening 27.46km stage over one minute faster than he did in the morning, 2.7 seconds ahead of BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Jari-Matti Latvala and an impressive 12.9 seconds ahead of former Formula One Champion, Kimi Raikkonen.
Team-mates Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin continued to use soft compound Pirelli PZero tyres in the afternoon but they proved tough on the fast, flowing tarmac in SS7 so they made a last minute decision to swap to the hard compound tyres for the final two stages of the day.
Wilson reported difficulties with his brakes in the afternoon but despite this, gradually improved his stage times in the afternoon, finishing SS8 over 30 seconds quicker second time round.
Spectators on the stage during SS9 meant there was another short delay but both drivers improved on their morning's times with Andersson finishing the stage 7.7 seconds faster and Wilson finishing the 18.13km stage 6.8 seconds faster than he did in the morning's pass.
Both drivers completed the final stage of the day with no major problems and move into the final day of Rally Bulgaria with Andersson in a comfortable seventh position overall and Wilson just behind in ninth.
Stobart M-Sport Ford driver Matthew Wilson said:
"We made the right tyre choice this morning but unfortunately we made the wrong decision by sticking with the soft tyres for the afternoon. We quickly realised our mistake and used hard tyres for SS9 where everything felt much smoother -- it was good to get a consistent grip on the tarmac. I wasn't happy with my brakes this afternoon though and I think this cost us some valuable time. We're going to change the ride height for tomorrow but everything else will just depend on the conditions in the morning."
Stobart M-Sport Ford driver P-G Andersson said:
"It was like a sauna in the car this afternoon but everything went really well for us and I'm happy with our stage times this afternoon. The first two stages were very clean and everything went well apart from hitting a rock about half way through SS9 which damaged my front right wheel. There was also a stray dog on the stage at one point but this didn't cost me any time. I'm really enjoying myself on the stages and definitely feeling a lot more confident in the [Ford] Focus today. I will continue to push tomorrow."