Stobart start strong as wild weather dampens opening stages
After the opening loop of Rally Argentina Gigi Galli leads the way for the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team in fifth position as his team-mates Henning Solberg and Matthew Wilson both occupy spots inside the top-10.
This has been a strong start for the team with both nominated scoring cars in points positions.
Thick fog combined with a tremendous amount of mud made conditions extremely challenging for crews as they headed out for the first of this morning's four special stages. With storms over the last two days, road position immediately became a key factor with front runners benefiting as roads quickly became rutted in the soft, moist conditions.
Last night saw a packed Cordoba city centre as 40,000 Argentine rally fans lined the streets for the ceremonial start. Galli had spectators in a frenzy with his stunt on the start ramp, playing to the extremely loud and enthusiastic crowd.
All three drivers managed to get through this morning unscathed despite the damaging conditions which played havoc on several drivers. Solberg lost over two minutes on the opening 18.7 kilometre test getting caught up in the thickest of fog for the morning. Wilson heads to first service in 10th position while Solberg occupies eighth.
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Gigi Galli said:
"That was an incredible start to the rally and the first two stages were the most difficult I have ever seen. This is a new challenge for us in Argentina because I have only done three stages on gravel in the Focus WRC so I am constantly learning a new driving style this morning especially in the wet. The hard-compound Pirelli tyre is holding up very well and hopefully the conditions will dry up for the stages this afternoon."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Henning Solberg said:
"I couldn't see a thing for the entire first stage that I don't even remember it. It was incredible how much fog there was and we lost so much time because of this. When the conditions are wet and there is lots of fog it makes the grip level very difficult to judge. My times on the last two stages were a lot better and we set the second fastest time on the last one but it is just a shame we lost all that time on stage 1."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Driver Matthew Wilson said: J
"Well it has been an interesting morning but I'm happy to be back in service without any problems. The first stage today was extremely difficult with the fog, there was also a lot of mud on the stage but this wasn't a problem if you could see it. The grip was slightly inconsistent on the first two stages, but the on last two conditions dried up quite a lot which made it more enjoyable and our times were much better."