Solberg shines despite final day despair Henning Solberg and Cato Menkerud have equalled the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team's best ever result in a WRC event, finishing fourth in the 2007 Uddeholm Swedish Rally. Solberg's fourth position added to...
Solberg shines despite final day despair
Henning Solberg and Cato Menkerud have equalled the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team's best ever result in a WRC event, finishing fourth in the 2007 Uddeholm Swedish Rally. Solberg's fourth position added to Ford's manufacturer dominance in Sweden as he backed-up the BP-Ford World Rally Team to be one of three Focus RS 06 cars in the top four.
It was an unfortunate end to the rally for team mates Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila and Matthew Wilson/Michael Orr, with the pair out of the event before the completion of stage 16.
A massive drop in temperature overnight caused an engine breather pipe in the Ford Focus RS 06 to freeze resulting in a build-up of pressure in the car's engine and the loss of its oil.
Rather than risking their attack on Norway, the decision was made to retire the cars from the event today. Its was a disappointing end to the rally in which both competitors had been driving well and setting impressive and consistent stage times.
Once again Uddeholm Swedish Rally proved a test for drivers as temperatures on the final day dropped as low as minus-25 degrees in the Hagfors forestry regions. Glare from present sunshine over the last two days made finding lines in the snow difficult with many drivers opting to use yellow tinted glasses to help define corners during stages.
This was Solberg's best result in Sweden and a stage win on the 11.25 kilometre Malta 1 test was the first for Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team in the 2007 championship. The Norwegian showed a mature drive throughout the weekend bringing the car back to Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson, without a scratch and with five manufacturer championship points to his name.
Wilson attempted to rectify the problem with his car during stage 16 and initially re-started after stopping, but the problem continued and he was forced to stop altogether. Latvala's was more terminal and had to stop just before the halfway point after setting a quick first split.
All three drivers showed they have the ability to be competitive on snow and will head to Norway looking to improve on their performance. As a five time national rally champion in Norway, Solberg will once again head the attack on the snow, in the second rally of the double-header next week.
Latvala has shown he can meet the pace of top WRC drivers and with years of experience on the surface, competing through the Finnish Rally Championship, he will be one man to watch out for. After improving his speed from last year, Wilson too will head to Norway confident on the surface in a car that has shown phenomenal grip on the tricky snow roads.
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Matthew Wilson said:
"I can't believe what happened today, it's not a good end to the rally for me. Quite early in the stage the car started to miss-fire so we stopped and made some adjustments to try and fix the problem. This worked for a while but after another few kilometres the oil warning light came on, so we stopped. This is not how I wanted my rally to finish but it was out of my hands, but I can't wait to get started in Norway next weekend and hopefully improve on my performance from here."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Jari-Matti Latvala said:
"Our problem today happened eleven kilometres into the first stage. I noticed the oil warning light come on so I immediately slowed down and called the team. They told me to stop so as not to damage the engine. I'm very disappointed with what happened as I was really getting to grips with the car and you can see from my times yesterday and Friday, that I was confident with it and the conditions. Ok I have to put it in the back of my mind now and concentrate on Norway and try and perform as well there."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Henning Solberg said:
"I took this rally slowly, step by step with no big push and I am happy with the result. Malcolm told me to just get through today and I have brought the car back to him in one piece in a good position so I am very happy. I am so happy now the rally has finished it is almost better than my podium in Turkey. I love this car and it's a great team, I think I am at my best now. Next week we will see what happens, there are a lot of fast guys at this rally so we will just try our best."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said:
"Obviously it was a bit disappointing for Jari and Matt, they were both going well until the problem this morning. It just occurred out of the blue and rather than damaging the engines any more we decided to retire them as a precaution; we need to think about Norway. Henning has done a super job here, and it is only his second event in the car. It really sets him up well for Norway and I think he should be challenging for the podium on his home event."