Australia : Stobart M-Sport Ford - Finish
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford drivers Matthew Wilson and Luis Perez Companc both demonstrated fantastic car control, under the most difficult conditions, to bring their Ford Focus RS WRC 06s home at the end of the 19th and final Rally
Australia to be based in Perth.
The drivers faced six stages (two loops of three) to the east of Perth through a final loop run in overcast conditions. The first stage was the immensely technical and twisty Atkins test. At just 4.42 kilometres, it's not the longest in the event, but it is certainly among the hardest. Wilson's job was made even harder when a minor car problem made downshifting from second to first difficult.
The 19-year-old overcame that issue and brought the car safely back to service, where a change of clutch and hydraulic valve solved the problem in time for the re-run of the three stages. Wilson's hopes of a points finish were dashed after he damaged his car on leg one and was forced to rejoin under SupeRally regulations. He only missed out on points by one position, however, finishing ninth of the registered manufacturer drivers.
It was a similar story for Companc. He had slid off the road on day one and returned with the requisite penalties on Saturday and Sunday. The Argentine made seventh of the manufacturer drivers, however, taking two valuable points for the team. On top of that, both drivers enjoyed the chance to fully acquaint themselves with the 2006 Focus in time for Rally New Zealand, which starts in just under three weeks.
Matthew Wilson's Ford Focus RS WRC 06 suffered a clutch problem this morning, while the sister car of Luis Perez Companc lost its launch control on SS25 this afternoon.
“I had a problem with the clutch from the first stage this morning. I noticed it because the launch control wasn't working off the start line. I engaged the system, but then it died and we couldn't go anywhere for two or three seconds. After that, we couldn't go from second to first gear; this was a problem in that first stage this morning because it's so tight and twisty. Then in the long stage the car didn't want to shift from second to third, it was quite difficult.
“Running first on the road wasn't quite as bad as it was yesterday. There's been a fair bit of moisture around this morning which means the gravel was bound together, giving us a little bit more grip. The second run of the stages was okay, the road had cleaned quite a bit. We had one stall at the start of a stage. On the whole, the rally has been a little bit frustrating. Most of the frustration came on the first day. I made a small mistake but paid a big price for it.”
Luis Perez Companc
“I had no real problems this morning. The first stage was very technical and slow – I didn't enjoy that one very much, it was a bit of a nightmare. Then I went off the road twice on the long one. One of those times I was fully off the road, the car was right away and into the grass. Luckily there weren't any big rocks or stones in the undergrowth, so the Focus wasn't damaged.
“After that, I really enjoyed the third stage. It was nice and fast and flowing, much more the kind of road that I like. This afternoon, I had a launch control problem which stalled the car at the start of the long stage – other than that it's been perfect. Now I'm really looking forward to getting to New Zealand for more time in this great car!”
Malcolm Wilson, Team Principal
“Both the drivers have done a great job on a very difficult rally. I'm very pleased for them both. It was really important for them to score more valuable points in the manufacturers' championship in their race against the Red Bull team. At the same time, Luis did a great job in keeping ahead of Dani Sordo's Citroen, which has helped the sister BP Ford World Rally team in its efforts to win the world championship.
“I think Matthew has had a bit of a frustrating event and he seems pretty depressed, but at the end of the day he has to remember – as, in fairness, do I – that he's only 19 years old and that all of these rallies are new to him.”
Press Release Stobart M-Sport Ford