Argentina : Stobart M-Sport Ford - Preview
The FIA World Rally Championship heads to South America for Rallye Argentina on April 28-30 and Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team driver Matthew Wilson can't wait to take to the challenging gravel stages of the sixth round of the
FIA World Rally Championship.
After two tarmac events Wilson is relishing the opportunity to shine on a surface he enjoys and the last time he visited the Americas earlier this year with Corona Rally Mexico, Wilson was able to show his pace on the tricky surface.
Wilson, the only British full time rally driver in the WRC, will face a tough task to beat his team-mate for this event. Luis Perez Companc, who has already rallied with the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team in Sweden and Mexico this season, will be competing in his home event and the Argentinean fan favourite will be expected to go well in front of the massive crowds expected on the stages.
Each of the three days of Rallye Argentina serves up a distinct challenge. Leg one on Friday sees seven stages, two repeated, that have what can best be described as having a sandy base to the gravel, which gets cut up during the course of the day. Saturday's leg two features a repeat of some of the first day's stages allied to the rally's fastest. Sunday's leg three is at high altitude, starving the engines of oxygen and sapping their power, but providing the multitudes of photographers with dramatic lunar-like backdrops especially on the fantastic 16.82 km El Condor stage.
The diversity of challenges over the three days means Argentina can be a rally of attrition, and it has been known to throw up all manner of surprises. The weather can vary from blue skies to rain which makes the course all the more treacherous.
Then there's the wildlife. Reigning World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb
encountered a cow in the middle of a stage last year and he's not the first driver in encounter troubles of this ilk.
No matter what the weather, Rallye Argentina is a favourite on the WRC calendar and fans are expected to line the stages in their multitudes. The rally starts with a Super Special on Thursday evening in Cordoba Stadium and ends 351 km of competitive stage distance later back at Cordoba Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
"Since Corsica I've been working on my pace notes with Michael and we've been making good progress which hopefully will help in Argentina. I'll be glad to get back on gravel, it's a rally everybody enjoys and it'll be interesting to see how I get on back on a surface I have more experience with. It's a totally different thing from the tarmac of the last two events and we had good speed on gravel in Mexico. It was funny doing the pace note practice up in Cumbria as it was blue skies and 15 degrees, Michael couldn't believe it! It'll be interesting having Luis Perez Companc back in the team for this rally as he's a favourite, he's driving a proper car and he's been round the stages a fair few times; I reckon he's going to be blooming difficult to beat."
Luis Perez Companc
"I'm looking forward to Argentina, it's my home rally and I'm getting a much better feeling with the car and I hope in Argentina I go better than in Mexico. The crowds are going to be incredible and I want to make them feel good with my performance. The car is very strong, it hit a lot by the rocks in Mexico but it kept going, it will be good for the stages. I like very much driving on gravel."
Malcolm Wilson, Team Principal
"I have a feeling that Matthew will be happier returning to gravel, I think he will feel much more confident, and I'm sure he's much more happy to get back on a surface he seems to do well on. The first day in Mexico showed his potential on loose surface so hopefully that should translate to Argentina. It's a rally with a lot of different challenges so anything could happen. I'm sure Luis Perez Companc will go well at home with all the crowds cheering him on."
Press release Stobart M-Sport Ford