More pace, more passion and more points for Stobart The Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team now have two drivers in the top ten and more importantly two drivers in points-scoring positions for the Manufacturers' Championship after leg 2 of Rally ...
More pace, more passion and more points for Stobart
The Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team now have two drivers in the top ten and more importantly two drivers in points-scoring positions for the Manufacturers' Championship after leg 2 of Rally d'Italia Sardegna.
Henning Solberg and Cato Menkerud were in a fierce battle with Spaniard Dani Sordo, just slipping back a place on the closing test, finishing today's leg fifth outright. After a disappointing end to an unbelievable start yesterday, Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila charged from their overnight position of 14th, into an impressive tenth by leg 2 close.
The booming Brits, Matthew Wilson and Michael Orr, had an unfortunate end to their day's rallying after showing incredibly improved pace from yesterday's leg. Broken suspension on stage 10, a 22.57 kilometre test, was the reason for their exit from today's final two stages.
Once again the Emerald Coast offered typically warm Mediterranean weather which took its toll on crews who competed over 142.72 kilometres of competitive distance under the sweltering hot sun. Not a cloud in the sky mean surface temperatures stayed constantly high, reaching up to 38 degrees Celsius, making tyre choice and cut depth, of BFGoodrich's g-Force gravel tyres, extremely crucial decisions.
Having to sweep the loose sandy covering from the hard Sardinian base, front runners again struggled for traction over the morning loop of stages. By the second pass the loose coating was all but gone now leaving exposed rocks for competitors to deal with.
Pushing hard to keep Sordo at bay, Solberg had a spin near the beginning of the final 19.48 kilometre Su Filigosu test loosing 20 seconds and one position in the process. After holding fourth place for all but one of today's stages the Norwegian will be fired up tomorrow as he looks to win back the 10.3 seconds that currently separates him from the Spaniard.
For Latvala it was a sensational effort to climb back into the top ten and put himself in the final manufacturer points scoring position. The young Finn had the difficult task of running second on the road today but for someone quite new to the sport he took it like a true veteran setting some outstanding times, including a third fastest on the final test.
After being held up by dust on stage 1, Wilson put together some solid times in the morning, booking into service in a comfortable ninth position. Unfortunately for the 20-year-old disaster struck, 8.3 kilometres into the second pass over Loelle,when he hit a large rock on the outside of a corner breaking the rear suspension on his Stobart Ford Focus RS WRC06.
Trying to avoid a smaller rock present in his racing line, Wilson got caught in the loose gravel sliding him into a larger rock which lay beside the road, another cruel blow for the rising young star. Wilson will re-start again tomorrow under SupeRally regulations.
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Jari-Matti Latvala said:
"Today has been difficult running second on the road, it has been even more difficult than I expected. But I need to be able to drive in these conditions and so I must learn how to cope with it. The more experienced drivers can do it and now I must learn. This afternoon has been quite good and the road conditions have been similar to yesterday; this means I can push harder and it's good that I have been able to finish today in the manufacturer points. There was still quite some gravel on the roads on the second pass and I think the two-wheel-drive cars have been dragging some more out as they have a different line to us. I was pushing a bit too hard and sliding on this gravel, so I decided to accept the situation and back off; immediately it felt more comfortable. This gave me more confidence for the last stage and now I have ended the day well, with a third placed stage-time, which gives me a good feeling to start tomorrow."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Henning Solberg said:
"I really tried to push today to keep the fourth position but a few small problems made it really difficult. I had problems with the brakes on both the morning and the afternoon stages and on the day's last two stages we had only rear brakes towards the end of them. I spun twice on the last stage. The first time we were able to drive away quickly but the second time I had to reverse and I lost about ten seconds; this dropped me down to fifth position. The stages tomorrow are very technical and difficult and they are new to everyone. I will definitely push again tomorrow and try to get back fourth place; the stages are more similar to Friday's roads and I was going really well then. Hopefully we can get the Friday feeling back again and score some more points for me and the team."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Matthew Wilson said:
"In general I was pretty pleased with today's performance. My times were much better and I was really happy with how things have improved. It's a pity that we got caught behind a slower car this morning as we lost quite some time with that; we just couldn't get close enough to get past him because of the dust clouds. Then this afternoon we broke the rear suspension. There was a rock on the line and I tried to avoid it causing the car to run onto the slippery gravel at the side of the road and we got off line going into the next corner; the back wheel hit a massive rock square on. Six inches either side and we would have got away with it. It came as a surprise as the pace was very comfortable, everything was well under control and I wasn't pushing hard."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
"I am pleased with Matthew's performance today and he still has a chance to get more experience of these difficult stages tomorrow. Henning has being going well also; Sordo has being putting him under pressure all day so it is shaping up to be an interesting battle tomorrow. Hopefully Henning can move back in front as the team are looking good for more manufacturer points. Jari-Matti has struggled with road position today but he posted some good time this afternoon when the roads were cleaner. He is aware that Greece isn't far away and needs to bring the car to the finish safely."
-credit: stobart motorsport