Australia : Stobart M-Sport Ford - Leg 2
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford men Matthew Wilson and Luis Perez Companc turned in fault-free drives through some of the most demanding conditions this year's World Rally Championship will provide.
The Western Australian roads are
acknowledged among the planet's fastest rally drivers as being the most testing of their kind. The roads are coated in ball-bearing-sized stones, which makes grip something of a rare commodity in this part of the world. The problem is exacerbated on three counts: when the sun shines, the temperatures are high and a driver is first on the road. All three of those challenges faced 19-year-old Wilson, the WRC's youngest ever full-time competitor, throughout the day.
Wilson rose to the challenge, powering his Focus through the day's nine stages without putting a mark on the car. He admitted, however, that the challenge this event poses is considerably bigger than he had expected. His team-mate, Companc was in a slightly better position, running third on the road. The Argentine driver enjoyed the second leg's faster stages and spent most of the day preparing himself and his Ford for the Rally of New Zealand, which takes place on similar roads next month.
Both Ford Focus RS WRC 06s ran without any technical trouble throughout Leg two.
“This morning was so hard! The conditions were terrible – probably the worst gravel I've ever seen. Because I was first on the road, there were no braking marks, nothing.
I took a cut in the tyre to try and move some of the gravel aside, but, really, it made no difference. We dropped 30 seconds on the first stage this morning with two overshoots. That's what happens when you touch the brakes and the car goes faster sliding on top of the ball bearings!
“On the second run through, it was better. By then, though, we were starting to get some ruts and they can take your confidence away as well. I did enjoy the jumps at Bunnings, though. They were really quite daunting – you sweep downhill and then there's an enormous kick at the top, which throws you into the air. I was a bit cautious on the first attempt, but went a bit harder the second time around and we certainly seemed to fly a fair way! The car was running absolutely perfect this morning.
“The only thing which took some time was the gearbox. Being used to a six-speed 'box [in the Focus RS WRC 05], I wasn't in the right gear all of the time now that we're using a five-speeder. Having said that, it wasn't too much of a problem – this car has got so much torque, it'll pull you along which ever gear you're in. On the two re-run stages later today, the ruts were quite bad – they were throwing the car all over the place.”
Luis Perez Companc
“Today has been very good. I really like the stages, they seem to suit me more. With the trouble we had yesterday, we couldn't do much on the leaderboard, so instead we were getting ourselves ready for New Zealand; today's roads are nearly the same as some of those on the next round. We haven't had any problems with the car at all.
“Really, we're just driving in the middle of the road. Everything has been getting better and better for me all day. There has been good grip around this afternoon, which is why I have been able to push harder.”
Malcolm Wilson, Team Principal
“It's been good for both of the drivers to get back into their cars and get back on the pace through today. Obviously it's been tough for Matthew, running first and Luis running third on the road, but they've learned a lot.
“The cars have both run without any problems, which is also good news. Tomorrow has the potential to be a bit of a sting in the tail, like always with Australia. There are 100 kilometres of stages and none of them will be easy in the hot and dry conditions.”
Press release Stobart M-Sport Ford