Finland : Stobart M-Sport Ford - Finish
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team driver Matthew Wilson has finished his first Neste Oil Rally Finland with a strong placing in the top ten, scoring Manufacturer points in the tough highly specialised event, the tenth round of the
FIA World Rally Championship.
Wilson and co-driver Michael Orr had a strong final day of the event once more setting times just outside the top ten over the four stages that ended the rally's 352 km of competitive distance. This final position of tenth in the overall standings was also sixth of the Manufacturer entered cars meaning three points for that championship.
The rally started with a spectator-friendly Super Special on Thursday night, but it was on Friday when the tough gravel stages were tackled in earnest. Wilson suffered a puncture 10 km into Friday's first stage which left him in 55th in the overall standings and with everything to do.
This Wilson achieved with aplomb and the 19 year-old Cumbrian worked his way back up the order through the first full day to finish in 14th position. This day saw wet stages adding to the challenge, but Wilson was able to avoid the car-breaking rocks which claimed so many vehicles and develop his experience of the event.
Saturday saw blue skies and sun overhead for the Finnish Rally classic Ouninpohja stages and Wilson ran consistently and without drama through the day's competitive 145 km to work his way into tenth overall.
Sunday was a case of holding station for the final four stages and entering the fan-packed service park with another strong result and a crucial three Manufacturer points.
The second Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team Ford Focus RS WRC05 had the Finnish crew of Kosti Katajamäki and Timo Alanne in action and the duo placed top five stage times in their home event. Two encounters with rocks, one on Friday breaking a rear suspension link and one on Saturday breaking a front suspension mount, meant their results were not as good as their fast times showed but 14th in the overall standings and a Manufacturer point were their reward for finishing the event.
The Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team are next out in action in Rally Japan on September 1-3 where Matthew Wilson and Luis Perez Companc will debut Ford Focus RS WRC06 cars in Stobart colours. Barry Clark will next be in action in the Ulster Rally driving the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team Fiesta S1600.
“It's been an interesting rally, I've really enjoyed it and it's mega to be here at the end of the event with the car intact and a top ten finish. If I had been offered a tenth place finish at the start of the event I would have taken it with both hands. It has been a really unbelievable event, even including the shorter stage on the final day which was flat out in sixth. The first time through the Ouninpohja stage is an experience I will never forget, it takes your breath away. We had a big moment with the car sideways the first time through there, it was in sixth gear over a crest so it was interesting enough.
“We'd had a bit too much oversteer with the car on the first morning but after that the setup was great. It's a shame about getting the puncture on the first morning as we were just getting into a nice rhythm when 10 km into the rally we had to change the tyre. We came over an absolute right crest and just nibbled a bit of the inside of the corner and the tyre was slashed. There was a hole in it big enough for all the mousse to come out. We then had another puncture so we had to drive cautiously to the service otherwise we could have been out for the day. I can't wait to get to Japan and get out in the new car.”
“I was happy with the stage times on the last two days. If it were not for our problems on Friday we would have been right up there for a good result. I was pushing very hard to get those times and I was learning the car with every stage. We had a very good setup with the car and the M-Sport mechanics did a fantastic job to repair the car after we hit the rocks. I am getting better and better all the time in the car and my confidence grows all the time. I don't have many chances to drive this car and I need to show what I can do every time I'm in it. It was a good rally for me, but it could have been better.”
Press release Stobart M-Sport Ford