Super Stobarts reclaim third in Manufacturer race The Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team have successfully reclaimed third spot from Subaru's factory outfit in the Manufacturers' championship after Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila and ...
Super Stobarts reclaim third in Manufacturer race
The Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team have successfully reclaimed third spot from Subaru's factory outfit in the Manufacturers' championship after Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila and Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud both finished Rally Argentina in top five positions overall. The team backed-up the official BP-Ford World Rally Team to assist in the amazing result of four Ford Focus WRC cars in the top five overall positions.
Latvala drove a solid rally to finish equal with his best ever WRC result, in fourth, while team-mate Solberg held off a charging Dani Sordo to claim fifth place. After retiring from leg 2 on the opening stage, Matthew Wilson/Michael Orr re-started the final day finishing the event in 30th position.
This was, by far, one of the most oddly structured rallies the WRC has seen in many years. The event was shortened considerably when bad weather on Thursday stranded competitors and officials in Buenos Aires after the opening Super Special stage at the River Plate Stadium. This left competitors with a 'free day' on Friday, after all seven proper stages of leg 1 were cancelled, with the only competitive action taking place on the Cordoba Super Special stage on Friday evening.
Due to the cancellation of 124.5 kilometres of competitive route officials made the decision to add one more running of the Mina Clavero -- Giulio Cesare stage during leg 3 in order for the event to have the sufficient distance to qualify for full championship points.
Overall conditions branched from one extreme to the other with blue skies being exchanged with fog and torrential downpours even during the same morning. Today played host to the highest elevated stage in El Condor -- Copina at 2195 metreswhich, with its lunar type landscape, climbed well over the cloud line from foggy conditions into almost surreal sunshine and clear skies.
Solberg started off slowly with a puncture on stage 11, but after making some changes to his car during the day, battled back to an impressive fifth position; ready to hunt down team-mate Latvala sitting close in fourth. The final leg battle started early but thick morning fog impaired the vision of the Norwegian who dropped back to sixth. He picked up the pace again, finishing the penultimate stage third fastest, reclaiming fifth position but unable to reach his team-mate in fourth.
Latvala yet again showed he will be one to watch out for in the not too distant future, quietly climbing the leaderboard all rally to equal his best ever WRC finish. This year is all about experience for the speedy Finn who is proving his maturity as a driver, able to beat more experienced competitors while still maintaining a fairly issue-free rally for himself and his Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team.
20-year-old Wilson had an unfortunate start to his Argentine campaign, when he retired 14 kilometres into stage 10, after the on-board displays in his Ford Focus RS WRC06 went completely blank. On arrival back into service, the team traced the problem to a severed electrical cable carrying power to the ignition system.
The young Brit re-entered the final leg only to have another, un-related, electrical issue but still managed to finish all five stages with top ten times including a fourth quickest on the final test.
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Henning Solberg said:
"This has been a very up and down rally for me. On Saturday morning I wasn't driving too well but this improved in the afternoon and I was pleased with my times; I think we made a lot of progress with the car set-up on Saturday and I was much more comfortable with the feeling I had. Today I had to push but also to finish. It was important for our friends in the BP-Ford team that I stayed ahead of Sordo and finish fifth and to get more points has been really good. I am just unhappy about losing time in the fog sections on the stages today; I need to learn how to drive in these conditions as I was backing off far too much. Generally it has been a good event for me and I'm happier now to take on the next rounds in Sardinia and Greece."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Jari-Matti Latvala said:
"Today's stages were very difficult with the overnight rain and the roads became rutted which made it very difficult to drive and concentrate. I knew I had a job to do today and that was the most important thing for me; to finish in fourth and get a few more points has made me very happy. It's very important to get experience and to be a manufacturer driver you need to be fast on all surfaces and this is what I am trying to do. I have been happy with my performance and this rally has helped me to learn how to drive the car better on gravel and more importantly to keep a consistent performance. I have learnt much over this weekend both with controlling the car and controlling myself."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Matthew Wilson said:
"What a rally, I think I have completed about two main stages competitively! I am just really frustrated as I had worked a lot on my pace notes before this event and I really wanted to get the mileage covered and see how things had improved. Unfortunately with the shortened event and the problems on Saturday, I only got 14 kilometres covered on the first day; however the notes felt really good on the stages and the information we got from the car's data was very encouraging. I'm positive about this and quietly confident for the next rallies. We had another electrical problem today caused by the overnight rain getting into the car which messed up the anti-lag system and we also ended up driving in the fog with the main light beam constantly on."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
"It has been a magnificent Stobart team effort and the guys have done a great job. They have supported the BP-Ford team in helping Ford to dominate the results. Matthew's rally was certainly character-building but everything was out of his control and he remains positive for the next event in Sardinia. Jari-Matti and Henning have driven a really sensible event, they have both improved well here and it's a good sign heading into two more gravel events in quick succession. The team have had a massive points haul here and it's fantastic for them to move back up to third position in the Manufacturers' Championship."
-credit: stobart motorsport