First Manufacturer point of the season within reach Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team crew Henning Solberg and Cato Menkerud ended leg 3 of the 75th Rallye Monte Carlo on a high, in a position to claim a manufacturer point for their new team tomorrow.
First Manufacturer point of the season within reach
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team crew Henning Solberg and Cato Menkerud ended leg 3 of the 75th Rallye Monte Carlo on a high, in a position to claim a manufacturer point for their new team tomorrow. Solberg had struggled during the event with his performance on tarmac and it was just consolation for him to finish today within the zone of manufacturer points.
An unfortunate off in the final stage of leg 3 has ended Jari-Matti Latvala's chance of collecting one drivers point in the first round of the 2007 championship. Latvala slid wide on some loose gravel hitting a stone wall damaging the front right and rear of his car, loosing two minutes on the stage. Because of damage to the cars safety roll cage Latvala will not be able to continue tomorrow.
Competitors were once again treated to un-seasonal warm weather today as they raced 128.72km on the last day of competition in Valence before heading back to Monaco on Sunday. Along with icy sections, loose gravel added to the unpredictability of a surface that has caught many crews out over the last two days. With the sun shining bright all day, many competitors chose a hard compound tyre for the afternoon stages in prediction of warming tarmac roads.
The 25.93km St Bonnet stage set the tricky standard for a day of racing that included average speeds of over 120kph and icy sections through the mornings pass. Labatie d' Andaure -- Lalouvesc and Lamastre -- St Barthelemy Gorzon offered more twisty and technical roads, suiting the Ford Focus RS WRC 06.
After changing his differential setup over-night, Latvala felt very confident during the morning stages and continued that form into the final loop of today's leg. The young Finn showed an enormously improved drive, finishing two stages in third position including two fastest splits. Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila were just 5.4 seconds off eighth position coming into the final stage, until their unfortunate accident put them back to eleventh overall.
British youngster Matthew Wilson had a consistent day's rallying finishing every stage without any major issues apart from a minor scare on stage 10 where he slid on an icy patch and touched the bank, lucky not to damage his Focus RS. This is the first time Wilson has driven the 06 car on tarmac and will give him valuable experience for the many years to come.
Norwegian driver Henning Solberg battled through the morning in this his first true tarmac event. After a hefty spin on stage 10, which lost him 45 seconds, Solberg was happy to finish every stage and learn about tarmac style rallying. The only other tarmac rally ever contested by the 34-year-old was Rallye Monte Carlo in 2006, but with lots more snow and ice that year it was a completely different experience.
All three Stobart VK M-Sport Ford crews finished the day gaining valuable mileage on some of the most historic roads in the World Rally Championship. Tomorrow the rally moves back home to Monte Carlo for a spectacular super special stage on Monaco's GP circuit. The event will be broadcasted live to millions of television viewers.
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Matthew Wilson said:
"We put on the last four hard compound tyres for this afternoon because we probably didn't exploit the grip as much as we should have this morning. I think I struggled on some stages where it was a bit patchy with ice and gravel but where it was dry we picked up the pace a bit. I'm really happy to have finished all the stages its great to get the experience on tarmac and also the night-time stages."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Jari-Matti Latvala said:
"Everything was going fine, just like all day. It was just one left hand corner, there was lots of gravel and we started to under-steer and slid into a small stone wall but we are both fine. The stages today were great though, the car was awesome and the tyre choice was very good. I was very happy to set some fast stage times, just unlucky at the end."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Henning Solberg said:
"I'm here and I'm happy to come through every stage and hopefully score a manufacturer point for the team after tomorrow. I have a lot to learn, maybe I have to do some circuit racing for practice on tarmac, but I am very happy to finish the rally for the team. Sweden and Norway are going to be very very good I am really looking forward to these rallies and driving on snow again."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
"I am very disappointed with what happened to Jari-Matti on the final stage today. It's highly frustrating after his superb performance to go and throw it all away on the last proper test. The only consolation is that he did get to complete all of the proper stages. I'm pleased that both Matthew and Henning made it to the finish; given the difficult conditions they did fairly well with there first tarmac outing in the car. It's also encouraging for Henning, as its likely he will score the team's first manufacturer point of the new season and his championship campaign in earnest will start in Sweden."