03 Jan 08
Running the Subaru World Rally Team so close for third in last year's manufacturers' race was an exceptional result for the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team, which was only in its second season of competition.
This year, the World Rally Championship could - and possibly should - expect even more from the Cumbrian-based team. The Italian-Belgian line-up of Gigi Galli and Francois Duval for the season-opening Monte Carlo would grace any of the world's top teams. Galli will continue as Stobart's lead driver for the remainder of this season, with Henning Solberg, Matthew Wilson and possibly even more great names vying for the chance to drive as the team's second point-scorer.
Stobart Group CEO Andrew Tinkler can hardly wait for his third Monte Carlo Rally at the top of the sport. He said: "Last year was fantastic for us. Jari-Matti [Latvala] did a great job, along with Henning [Solberg] and that's not to forget what Mathew [Wilson] did as well. His performance, particularly over the last three rallies of the year, was incredible. That's one of the reasons why we're so excited about the year to come. There's lots to come from this team, having Gigi Galli in the team is always going to be exciting - it's such good news to have him back in the sport, particularly in a car with the name Stobart on the side."
With Subaru likely to be ramping up its focus on the new Impreza WRC 2008 in the early stages of the new season, the first half of the year could present an ideal opportunity for Stobart to steal the march on SWRT.
Should Monte master Sebastien Loeb trip up on round one, Duval's proven asphalt ability could bring the former Rally Australia winner the perfect debut with Stobart. Beyond that, Galli's experience means he should be in the hunt for podium finishes on all rallies.