31 Mar 08
Seventh place for Gigi Galli on Rally Argentina kept the Italian fifth in the drivers’ championship and secured three manufacturer’s points for the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team.
But the rally was not a happy one for Galli’s team-mates Henning Solberg and Matthew Wilson who both failed to make the finish podium.
Galli rejoined as a Superally entrant on Sunday after retiring on day two.
“Last night I did not think I could finish this rally in seventh position but it just goes to show the rally isn’t over until you cross the finish ramp,” said Galli. “What happened yesterday was unlucky for us and my mechanics did a fantastic job trying so hard to fix the car before time ran out - so I must say thank you to them all.
“On the first day things felt very good, even though the conditions were the worst I have ever driven in my career. We had some good stage times and even a fastest on one of them, so this is a good sign for Jordan because I have only had limited kilometres on gravel in the car.”
Stobart’s other nominated point scorer Henning Solberg retired from each day under different circumstances. On day one he was stopped by a broken suspension top-mount after clipping a rock, while on Saturday he Norwegian withdrew from the afternoon stages to preserve his car for next month’s Jordan Rally. He re-entered on Sunday only to retire on the opening test with suspension damage.
“Well it has not been the best event for us but OK this is the way it goes sometimes,” said Henning. “We started off quite slow as there was a lot of fog on Friday morning but then on the next few stages we found the feeling and the times were good. It was unfortunate we retired on the first day, the conditions were quite rough and I was unlucky to hit a sharp rock which broke our suspension. This has been the most challenging event in my career but hopefully it will help in the future if there is another event where the weather is really bad like this. Now I am looking forward to Jordan Rally where it is a new event for everybody.”
Twenty-one-year-old Matthew Wilson was running well at the halfway point of the rally, sitting in sixth position and staying out of trouble. But on Saturday’s SS15 the Brit struck trouble on the final corner when a track control arm broke, bringing his day to an end. Wilson re-started on Sunday but retired on the opening test with broken front suspension.
“This has been the most difficult rally of my career and one from which I’ll take away a lot of experience,” said Wilson. “It was a disappointing end because we were looking good on Friday and my mechanics did an awesome job to get us back out in the afternoon after the problems on Saturday morning. On stage 15 we broke the TCA which was in a slow and smooth corner but it was just one of those things unfortunately. Sunday was definitely the hardest day in my career, the rain was unbelievable and you could barely see 20 metres in front of you on the stage because of all the thick fog. It would have been nice to finish this event but we had some good times on the first two days and have gained some experience in some of the worst conditions you will face in rallying.”