STOBART'S ШSTBERG SET FOR PODIUM FINISH
Mads Шstberg remains on track for his first podium finish in the FIA World Rally Championship as the M-Sport Stobart Ford driver holds second place at the end of the second full day of action at Rally Sweden.
The 23-year-old Ford Fiesta RS WRC driver was just 0.3 seconds behind Ford Abu Dhabi's Mikko Hirvonen by the midday service but a fast time from Hirvonen on Stage 12 saw the Finn extend his lead over Шstberg to 12.6 seconds.
A spin for Hirvonen on Stage 13 saw the gap close to just 0.6 seconds but during the day's final stages, the Finn edged in front once again and finished the day 7.4 seconds ahead of Шstberg.
At the end of the second day, three Fiesta RS World Rally Cars hold the top five spots in the Rally Sweden leaderboard, and with less than 16 seconds separating all five contenders, tomorrow is expected to be an action-packed finale.
Шstberg and co-driver Jonas Andersson will be second on the road tomorrow -- the duo will be hoping to take advantage of this position to move up and retain the rally lead from Hirvonen.
Team-mates Henning Solberg and co-driver Ilka Minor were forced to retire on today's opening stage after rolling their Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2 km into the 15 km Lesjofors speed test. Both team-mates escaped injury but the roll cage was damaged upon impact so they are unable to return under SupeRally regulations tomorrow.
Matthew Wilson and co-driver Scott Martin sit tenth overall in the team's other Fiesta RS WRC, 1.4 seconds from snatching ninth place from Patrik Sandell. The 24-year-old Cumbrian has steadily climbed the WRC leaderboard today due to a good car set-up and a consistent driving approach.
Mads Шstberg said:
"We knew that we were going to lose a lot of time this afternoon but that is OK as it has given us a better road position for tomorrow. I was expecting the conditions to be better this afternoon but the stages were so narrow due to ruts from the Swedish Championship drivers. Our tyres didn't fit into the ruts so we were cleaning the roads a lot more than we were expecting and it's difficult to drive when the roads were in that condition. It was nearly impossible to follow the lines on the roads. I will not play any games tomorrow -- I'll drive as fast as I can and we will see what happens."
Matthew Wilson said:
"It's been a tough afternoon -- it was difficult to see the lines and we made a couple of errors with the snow banks which cost us time. But the car set-up has been working well and there's not been any major dramas. We lost a lot of time yesterday with our power steering problems but we caught up some time today and now we're only 1.4 seconds behind Sandell so I think we can catch him on the first stage tomorrow and hopefully move into ninth. We're over two minutes behind PG [Andersson] so unless the WRC front-runners have any problems tomorrow then it will be difficult to move any further up the leaderboard."