Solberg Shines for Stobart at Rally Mexico Henning Solberg flew the flag for the Stobart M-Sport Ford rally team on day two of Rally Mexico as he found fine form on the dusty stages around Leon. Despite having to drive around problems with...
Solberg Shines for Stobart at Rally Mexico
Henning Solberg flew the flag for the Stobart M-Sport Ford rally team on day two of Rally Mexico as he found fine form on the dusty stages around Leon.
Despite having to drive around problems with the brakes on his Ford Focus RS WRC throughout, the Norwegian performed strongly and ran in the top six all day.
Team-mate Matthew Wilson was less fortunate however, leaving the road on the first stage of the day and being forced to retire after his Ford Focus RS WRC became lodged on a rocky outcrop.
The itinerary for the second full day of Rally Mexico featured 158.82km of competitive stage distance over nine tests. The opening loop took in three stages in the countryside to the east of the city before a return to the 1.5km Coca-Cola Street Stage back in the Poliforum service park. The afternoon's schedule comprised of five stages, including repeats of the first three tests from the morning then two runs over the 2.21km Leon Autodrome Super Special Stage.
The longest stage of the rally, the 29.90km SS10 Ibarrilla, was first up and its loose gravel and rocks claimed a number of the leading WRC crews. Stobart's Matthew Wilson and Scott Martin were among them after they slid from the road and became stuck fast on a pile of large boulders. Despite incurring little damage they could not free the Ford Focus RS WRC and had to retire. The young Cumbrian pair will rejoin the event under SuperRally rules on Sunday after a frustrating day.
Stobart's Henning Solberg and Ilka Minor survived the tough first test and went on to have an outstanding day. In the opening loop they were the fastest Ford Focus RS WRC crew on SS11 Duarte and SS12 Derramadero, racking up two top-three stage times along the way.
In the afternoon Solberg and Minor continued their good run, finishing fourth-fastest on the 23.27km SS15 Duarte ahead of former rally leader Petter Solberg. On the following stage, SS16 Derramadero the pair still went fifth-quickest and finished only 0.3sec behind BP Abu Dhabi Ford World Rally Team driver Jari-Matti Latvala ahead. The pair rounded out the day on a high note with another two top-three stage times on the SS17 and SS18 Super Specials.
Solberg's steady work on day two at Rally Mexico left him placed sixth overall, 25.3sec behind Rally Sweden winner Mikko Hirvonen.
With the cancellation of SS20 Sauz Seco for safety reasons earlier in the week, the final day of Rally Mexico on Sunday will consist of just three tests totalling 51.49km of competitive distance.
Matthew Wilson and Scott Martin will rejoin the rally for the last leg and use the remaining stages as an extended test to develop the settings on their Ford Focus RS WRC.
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The BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team Ford Focus RS WRCs of Mikko Hirvonen and team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala battled throughout the day to reel in the three Citroens ahead of them on the leaderboard. However, the flying Finns struggled to find their best form and couldn't capitalise on their favourable road positions, with Latvala having to settle for fourth and Hirvonen fifth after the day's stages were completed.
Munchi's Ford World Rally Team driver Federico Villagra benefited from the high rate of attrition in the demanding event to move up to seventh overall as other crews fell by the wayside. The Argentine suffered from minor problems with his brakes in the afternoon but was content to drive sensibly and ensure he got through the day without any mistakes and in a points-scoring position.
American stars Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino of the Monster World Rally Team suffered a similar fate to their Stobart counterparts Matthew Wilson and Scott Martin, sliding off the loose gravel road on the first stage. Damaged suspension ended their day early but they will return under SuperRally rules on Sunday.
Stobart M-Sport Ford driver Henning Solberg said:
"It was a very good day for us. If we did not have the problems with the brakes maybe we would have been even faster, but even so I am happy. The atmosphere here in Mexico is really good and I love the stages. It will be hard to catch Mikko but we will keep going as fast as we can. I hope we can continue like this tomorrow and finish with a good result."
Stobart M-Sport Ford driver Matthew Wilson said:
"Obviously it was a really disappointing start to the day. It was a simple driving error, I misjudged the braking slightly on the corner and we ran wide but we were just unlucky to get beached on the rocks. There was no real damage to the car and we could have recovered and got going again if it wasn't for one big rock the car was stuck on. We are looking forward to getting back out tomorrow, we'll use it as a bit of a test to try out things and because there is nothing to lose we can take some risks."
Stobart M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
"It's been another mixed day for the Stobart crews at Rally Mexico. Matthew and Scott will be bitterly disappointed at having to retire so early on but they were quite unlucky not to be able to continue. I'm sure they will be looking forward to making up for lost time tomorrow. Henning and Ilka did very well. They were consistent and worked really well together to record some excellent stage times throughout the day. Both Stobart crews can pick up valuable points if they perform well on the final day."