Stobart's Wilson locked in duel with Villagra Stobart M-Sport Ford's Matthew Wilson and co-driver Scott Martin successfully closed the gap on Federico Villagra in seventh position to only 2.4 seconds at the end of the second day of action at...
Stobart's Wilson locked in duel with Villagra
Stobart M-Sport Ford's Matthew Wilson and co-driver Scott Martin successfully closed the gap on Federico Villagra in seventh position to only 2.4 seconds at the end of the second day of action at Rallye de France.
The Cumbrian driver was hot on the tail of the seven-time Argentinean Rally Champion throughout the repeat loop of four stages totalling 149.22 km today, despite Wilson claiming the newly-located event had proved to be the hardest FIA World Rally Championship round of the year.
Wilson reported that the opening four stages were some of the most difficult of his rallying career and during SS11 the young Briton lost valuable time as he was forced to steer his Ford Focus RS WRC through mud that had been dragged onto the road by the WRC front-runners. As Wilson pulled into Service D, he was feeling deflated but had successfully moved up into eighth position - ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and team-mate Ken Block but 33.1 seconds behind Villagra.
A repeat of the morning's four stages totaling 74.61 km kicked off the afternoon loop and Wilson successfully produced his fastest time of the day during the 35.48 km Pays d'Ormont 2 stage [SS15]. He finished the tricky alpine test an impressive 28.9 seconds ahead of Villagra and with just one stage of the day remaining, only 0.5 seconds separated Wilson and the Munchi's Ford driver on the overall WRC leaderboard.
During the day's crucial closing stage, Wilson spun on the same 2 km section of gravel that he had encountered problems with in the morning pass and then stalled his engine. The incident lost the Stobart driver approximately ten seconds and meant he was unable to catch Villagra who was leading the 23-year-old by 2.4 seconds going into the final day.
Stobart M-Sport Ford driver Matthew Wilson said:
"This afternoon was much better than this morning but this has easily been the toughest event of 2010 so far. I just can't compare it to any other rally I've competed at this year as the road conditions were just unbelievable. You only have to look at the car and the amount of mud that is splattered all over it to understand how dirty the stages have been. It really reminded me of the stages in Monte Carlo -- that was such a hard rally for me and this is certainly shaping up to be just as difficult. We're very close to catching up with Federico [Villagra] at the moment and if it hadn't been for that spin on the final stage today then I think we could have been leading him overnight. Also, if the temperatures had been cooler and drier then the stages would have been much more manageable but as this isn't going to change overnight I think tomorrow will be just as tough. It's only four stages and I want to keep the car on the road but I'd like to push to move up into seventh."