|Stobart Get Motoring in Mexico|
The Stobart M-Sport Ford Rally Team enjoyed a trouble free run in the opening loop of stages at Rally Mexico, with both crews sitting in top ten positions after the first four tests today (Friday).
The event officially began on Thursday evening with a ceremonial start in the historic city of Guanajuato in front of thousands of enthusiastic Mexican fans, with crews then facing 137.24km of competitive distance over nine stages on Friday.
With conditions in the host city of León starting off slightly cooler than earlier in the week, the Stobart M-Sport Ford crews of Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin and Henning Solberg/Ilka Minor took their Ford Focus RS WRCs into the countryside to tackle three high-speed, high-altitude stages before returning to the Poliforum service park for the first run through the Coca-Cola Street Stage.
Both Stobart crews got their rally off to a solid start as they swept through the 22.96km SS1 Alfaro with no problems, Henning Solberg going seventh-fastest and Matthew Wilson just behind him with the eighth-quickest time. That put the Stobart duo just behind the BP Abu Dhabi Ford World Rally Team crews who were fifth and sixth through the stage.
The 23.83km SS2 Ortega was a tough test for the crews as they slogged to the highest point of the event - 2737 metres above sea level. Stobart’s Henning Solberg took it in his stride though as he split the BP Abu Dhabi Ford World Rally Team Ford Focus RS WRCs by recording the sixth-quickest time. Matthew Wilson was ninth-fastest through the notoriously hard test, which can reduce engine power by up to 30% due to the thin air up in the Mexican hills.
SS3 El Cubilete’s 18.87km high-speed route covered in light gravel was reported to be very slippery by crews, and some suffered from low visibility due to the amount of dust kicked up. Henning Solberg was seventh-quickest through the stage while Matthew Wilson followed closely behind him and posted the eighth-quickest time.
The short, sharp 1.5km SS4 Coca-Cola Street Stage saw competitors blast through the tarmac around the service park in central León in front of the fans. Henning Solberg was the quickest Ford driver through the stage with the fifth-fastest time, with team-mate Matthew Wilson seventh.
After the morning’s stages both Stobart crews were in the top ten and points-scoring positions, with Henning Solberg placed seventh and Matthew Wilson eighth overall.
The afternoon’s itinerary will feature another loop of the Alfaro, Ortega and Cubilete stages before two passes through the 2.21km Super Special Stage in the León Autodrome. Both Stobart M-Sport Ford Rally Team crews will be looking to push on but avoid any mishaps on the tough opening day of Rally Mexico.
Stobart M-Sport Ford driver Henning Solberg said:
“It has been a good morning for us. We have had no problems and I’m very happy with the way the car is working. The surface was quite difficult in places this morning but I think it will be much better in the afternoon on the second pass.”
Stobart M-Sport Ford driver Matthew Wilson said:
“We’ve been struggling to keep the rear end of the car under control a bit and we’re not sure if that is a setup issue or whether we’ve knocked something out on a jump maybe. Apart from that it’s been going pretty well though. Road position is definitely a factor here because of the loose surface changing and I think in the afternoon it will be easier because the line will be cleaner.”
Leaderboard after SS4
1. P Solberg/P Mills NOR Citroen C4 41min03.6sec
2. S Ogier/J Ingrassa FRA Citroen C4 +17.1sec
3. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen C4 +26.1sec
4. D Sordo/M Marti ESP Citroen C4 +29.1sec
5. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Focus RS +40.3sec
6. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Ford Focus RS +55.2sec
7. H Solberg/I Minor NOR Ford Focus RS +1m01.8sec
8. M Wilson/S Martin GBR Ford Focus RS +1m28.2sec
9. K Block/A Gelsomino USA Ford Focus RS +1m.45.6sec
10. F Villagra/Pérez Companc ARG Ford Focus RS +2m.26.5sec