23 Apr 08
The Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team is expecting the brand new Jordan Rally to be a breath of fresh air after the disappointment of the previous round in Argentina.
All three of the team’s Focus RS WRCs retired from the South American event at one time or another, and although Gigi Galli restarted to bring his car home in seventh, it wasn’t the team’s finest hour.
The Stobart team currently lies fourth in the FIA Manufacturers’ Championship, 11 points behind Subaru - their close rivals from last year. The team says that after a four round ‘settling in’ period it now wants to close the gap on the Japanese manufacturer.
Gigi Galli and Henning Solberg, both 35 years-old, will be the team’s two nominated points’ scorers in Jordan; while Matthew Wilson will be in a third Stobart entered Ford Focus RS WRC07.
A five point deficit currently separates Galli and his co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini from BP Ford Abu Dhabi works driver and former Stobart man Jari-Matti Latvala who occupies fourth in the drivers’ classification.
“We haven't been to the race or to this country before so we are particularly curious to discover it,” said Galli. “Part of the route is below sea level which is going to be quite strange. I hope not to have trouble here and be able to have a good race and maintain a good pace. We did not have the best events in the last two rallies but I am really starting to get used to the new Focus now and I can’t wait to see what it can do in Jordan.”
Solberg and his co-driver Cato Menkerud have scored just four points so far this season and the pair lie 11th in the drivers’ classification: “We will try again here in Jordan, it was quite unlucky what happened in Argentina but that is in the past and we have to focus on this rally now,” he said. “I don’t know much about the rally only what I have seen on the internet from last year through some video clips on wrc.com. My engineer has done many years in the Middle Eastern Championship so I think it will be an advantage to have someone onboard who knows a lot about the surface already. We will be fighting hard again and hopefully a top-five result in this rally.”
Twenty-one-year-old Matthew Wilson and his co-driver Scott Martin are one point adrift of Henning in the drivers’ standings. Wilson is hoping that his physical training regime and a new set of pace notes will stand him in good stead on the new rally. “Both Scott and I have been training quite hard for this event because looking at the forecast, temperatures could climb as high as 40 degrees which will mean over 50 in the cockpit of the rally car,” he said. “On a long stage like the big one on Sunday, fitness and concentration will play a huge part. It has been an unlucky start to the year for us but I have been happy with the speed and now we come to an event that is new to everybody; the last time this happened in the WRC was Rally Ireland where we finished seventh overall. This will also give Scott and I a chance to write a brand new set of notes from scratch for the first time this year and the aim will definitely be for a top-eight finish by the end of the rally.”