Tour de Corse : Stobart M-Sport Ford - Leg 1
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team driver Matthew Wilson found the going difficult in his first day in Rallye de France – Tour de Corse as the 19 year-old came to terms with the twists and turns of the challenging Corsican tarmac.
Wilson and co-driver Michael Orr drove solidly and without major incident through the day, played out under glorious sunshine in the mountains stretching up from the seaside capital of Corsica, Ajaccio.
Wilson, the youngest and only British full time driver in the FIA World Rally Championship, ended the first leg at 17th place in the overall standings but he was frustrated with himself for not being able to place faster times, despite it being his first attempt at the rally which is known as the rally of ten thousand corners.
The day consisted of two long tarmac stages which were repeated. Wilson was cautious in his first run through but pushed harder with the second run. He was to push just too much on one corner 5km from the end of the third stage and spun as he struggled for grip on the gravel at the corner's outer edge. In this spin Wilson clipped the rear bumper of his Ford Focus RS WRC 05, damaging the rear differential oil cooler housed beneath. To add insult to injury, Wilson then hit the same spot as he reversed back on to the road, attempting to minimise the damage to his stage time from the off. He lost some 15 seconds in the incident.
Jari-Matti Latvala in the sister Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team Focus said he was being cautious in his first Rallye de France in a WRC car, but a seventh place in the overall standings at the end of the day was the result.
Latvala, GpN winner in Corsica last season, proved consistent through the day in his second rally with the team and the Finn who is co-driven by Miikka Anttila was very pleased with his progress.
Barry Clark in the Stobart VK Rally Team adopted a cautious approach in his Ford Fiesta ST which is contesting the J-WRC and Fiesta SportingTrophy International. The Scot admitted that his approach was probably too cautious, and he ended the day in ninth place in the N3 standings, the sixth Fiesta.
Day two of Rallye de France – Tour de Corse once more features two stages which are repeated, this time including the rally's longest stage, the 34.66km Vico – Plage de Liamone.
“It's definitely one of the hardest rallies I've done. You're constantly working and trying to push yourself, really quite hard. We lost about 15 seconds when we spun on a really narrow section near the end of stage three. There was a lot of gravel and we came out of a left-hander and got on the power just a little too early which spun the back end round. It clouted the rear on the bank and as we reversed back on to the stage we hit the rear again. The stages are so long here, if you're just a second a kilometre slower than the fastest driver that's 30 seconds. It's easy to get disheartened with that.
“Hopefully we can just learn from it, we've changed a couple of things on the pace notes and things like that, just making improvements for next year which is the main thing.”
“In the first stage I wasn't so confident, I wasn't driving well enough and I was braking too early but in the second stage I found the confidence and it started to go better. The day has been very good, no problems. My driving has been quite good, I had a safe margin as I haven't been pushing 100% so I'm happy to see the results. There were no big moments on the stages, just a few times when we went a bit wide on the gravel. Tomorrow we will go at the same speed but maybe we will go a little bit faster.”
“We were just taking it real steady, that was the game plan right from the start. It's a mighty long rally and we thought it was the right approach given the high rate of attrition in Catalunya. I'm maybe a bit far off the pace than I would have liked to have been, but we'll pick up the pace. There's a lot more pace to come from me and we've just been trying to feed ourselves back in as well, it's a daunting place.”
Malcolm Wilson, Team Principal
“For Matthew this is a difficult rally and I think he started the day quite tense. He was certainly going better in the afternoon despite having a small spin. Here the trick is having confidence in the pace notes, especially for the long corners that you can't see around, and that is something which can only come with experience, which is exactly what he's gaining by being here. Jari-Matti Latvala drove very well to end the day in seventh. He was GpN winner here last year so we all know what he can do, but it is an impressive performance from him.”
Press release Stobart M-Sport Ford