Cyprus - Stobart M-Sport Ford - After SS9
Stobart M-Sport Ford driver Matthew Wilson had a storming start to Day Two of the Cyprus Rally, moving up from eighth to fifth after three stages as he thrived on the challenging gravel stages in the Troodos mountains.
hard work of the team overnight to get the cars switched to a full gravel set-up paid off as both Wilson and Henning Solberg performed well in the slippery conditions caused by heavy overnight rain in Cyprus.
Wilson held his nerve in the mud on SS8 while other drivers faltered on the roads finishing fifth on the 28.1 kilometre Pano Panagia stage. The result moved him up to sixth in the overall rankings and put him within striking distance of Evgeny Novikov just ahead. And on the final stage of the morning, Wilson reeled in Novikov's 0.6-second lead to take fifth place overall.
Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud put yesterday's crash behind them as their rally finally got underway and they immediately started their charge to earn manufacturer points, finishing sixth on SS8 23.6 seconds behind teammate Wilson. Despite collecting a puncture a couple of kilometres from the end of SS9, Solberg posted another good time just 7.9 seconds behind Wilson.
With no repeated stages today the drivers face two long stages of 30.9 kilometres and 26.2 kilometres on the twisting mountain roads where Wilson will look to keep up the pace he set in the morning and stretch his lead over Novikov.
"It is great to have moved up three places in three stages.
It felt good this morning and we've found a good rhythm. We lost a bit too much time on the tarmac but today has been a big improvement on yesterday. We really didn't make any mistakes this morning which is great because it is quite easy to with all the mud this morning. The middle stage was quite difficult and it was tough keeping the car on the road even at low speed. There's a lot of mud out there and it's horrible stuff; we've just had the car weighed and we're carrying about 100kg of mud."
"I feel like I am playing catch-up today as this morning was my first stage when everyone else has had a full day out there. The stages are very muddy in places and in the sections with the mud it is very difficult to keep the car on the road. The mud is making the car feel very sluggish. We picked up a puncture on the last stage but it happened a couple of kilometres from the end and didn't really slow us down. We'll keep concentrating on what we're doing this afternoon; the stages are more twisty with lots of corners and lots of pacenotes to listen to."